Chapter published in:Shakespeare and Crisis: One hundred years of Italian narratives
Edited by Silvia Bigliazzi
[Shakespeare in European Culture 2] 2020
► pp. 51–94
Waiting for Caesar
Caesarism is a complex category, often interpreted as synonymous with imperialism and identified with the rule of strong authoritarian figures such as Napoleon, Bismarck, and Mussolini. Adopting a Gramscian perspective, this chapter argues that Caesarism identifies a far more articulated phenomenon which should not be reduced to simplified ideas of authoritarianism or to the grotesque theatrics of Fascist power. Caesarism in the twenty years of the Fascist regime was a response to a pervasive crisis in Italy, which it did not solve, but maintained alive and contained through an institutionalised form of instability based on revolutionary and populist premises. The contradictory paradigm of Caesar as a ‘democratic dictator’, reproposed by recent criticism, was in fact first expressed by Enrico Corradini in his 1902 play Giulio Cesare, later revised in the 1920s, which in many respects dialogues with Shakespeare’s more famous play. This chapter explores the formation of regimes of expectations about ‘Caesarism’ in the first three decades of twentieth-century Italy by examining the dynamic intersection of different narratives about the ‘historical Caesar’ and what Gramsci calls the ‘myth of Caesar’, both literary and cultural at large. The discussion sets Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar against this rich mythopoietic background, investigating, on the one hand, its complex dialogue with the contemporary Italian ‘Caesar plays’, and, on the other, their implicit responses to it.
Keywords: Caesarism, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar , Enrico Corradini’s Giulio Cesare , regimes of expectation, Gramsci, ‘myth of Caesar’
Published online: 22 June 2020
Baehr, Peter, and Melvin Richter
Baranello, Adriana M.
Caesar Gaius Iulius
Canfora, Luciano, and Gustavo Zagrebelsky
2014 La maschera democratica dell’oligarchia. Un dialogo a cura di Geminello Preterossi. Roma: Laterza. Accessed April 16, 2018. https://www.laterza.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1420&Itemid=101
1960– Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. Roma: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana. Accessed June 14, 2018. http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/enrico-corradini_(Dizionario-Biografico)/
Dio Cassius Cocceianus
Eckstein, Arthur M.
Martindale, Charles, and Michelle Martindale
1865b “On Caesarism.” Macmillan’s Magazine 12: 259–266. Accessed June 10, 2018. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015014567195;view=1up;seq=11
1934 Legione Decima. Romanzo fra l’anno XII dell’età fascista e l’anno 58 a.C. Milano: Mondadori. Accessed December 17, 2017. https://www.liberliber.it/mediateca/libri/p/panzini/legione_decima/pdf/panzini_legione_decima.pdf
2012 Attori e scena nel teatro italiano di fine Ottocento. Studio critico su Giovanni Emanuel e Giacinta Pezzana. Torino: Accademia University Press. Accessed September 12, 2018. https://iris.unito.it/retrieve/handle/2318/16846/373072/attori%20e%20scena.pdf
Price, Hereward T.
Rusconi, Gian Enrico
Shepherd, Elizabeth Jane
Suetonius, G. Tranquillus
Taylor, Andrew J.
2016 Il mito di Giulio Cesare e il culto della romanità nel teatro musicale dell’Era Fascista: i casi di Gian Francesco e Riccardo Malipiero. PhD diss. Università di Milano. Accessed January 10, 2018. https://air.unimi.it/bitstream/2434/456847/2/phd_unimi_R10055.pdf
2013 “Per una storia della riflessione teorica sulla traduzione in Italia. La sfortuna di Shakespeare.” Enthymema 9: 257–268. Accessed January 22, 2019. https://riviste.unimi.it/index.php/enthymema/article/view/3590