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Online publication date:
August 2014
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This book takes a fresh look at Victorian England's "love of Italy", traditionally constructed as the reserve of the established classes, by revealing a forgotten connection between the radical, Victorian "non-elites" and the Risorgimento democrats. The republican exile Giuseppe Mazzini first introduced the idea of "Italy" to workers keen on self-improvement; his radical ideas circulated in reading rooms and co-operative societies, where republican Italy became a transnational dream. Indeed, when Italy was unified under a constitutional monarch in 1860, British Mazzinians were bitterly disappointed, and subsequently supported Italian republicans for decades; undeterred by Italy's fin de siècle crisis and the rise of fascism, they championed Italian anti-fascists who associated themselves with Mazzini's principles of global democracy. Drawing on a wide range of material, the book provides fresh insights both into the history of Victorian radicalism in Britain, and to the history of the Risorgimento.

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