Traverso wins Italian literature award for nonfiction

Enzo Traverso, the Susan and Baron Winokur Professor in the Humanities, has received the 2022 Premio Napoli award for nonfiction for his book “Rivoluzione 1789-1989” (Feltrinelli, 2021).

Traverso accepted the award Dec. 15 at the Mercadante Theater of Naples, where the ceremony took place in the presence of Gaetano Manfredi, the mayor of Naples. A committee of Naples’ distinguished writers, scholars, and artists chooses finalists for the award in three categories —fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — with a jury of 2,000 readers selecting the winners. This was the 68th edition of the prize.

In his book, Traverso reinterprets the history of 19th and 20th century revolutions through a constellation of “dialectical images:” from Marx’s “locomotives of history” to Lenin’s mummified body, from Gericault’s “raft of the Medusa” to the Paris Commune’s demolition of the Vendome Column, offering an intellectual and visual history of the revolutionary past.

The English version, “Revolution: An Intellectual History,” was published in October 2021 by Verso. The book has also been published in French and Spanish, with translations to follow in German, Portuguese, Greek, Korean and other languages.

“I am very proud of this award for many reasons,” Traverso said. “Of course, because it is one of the oldest and most prestigious Italian literary prizes, already won by internationally-reputed writers and scholars, but also because it resonates with the spirit of my book. And finally because it comes from a city which I always loved.”

Since 1954, the Fondazione Premio Napoli has worked to involve not only literature enthusiasts but also young people, students and inmates of Neapolitan prisons in literary activities. Usually, the finalist authors present their works giving lectures at the university and other cultural institutions or sites Two days before the award ceremony, Traverso discussed his book at the foundation Lo scugnizzo liberato (The Liberated Street Urchin), with a crowded audience of students, professors, intellectuals and social activists.

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		Book cover: Revolution