Il Duce's Explorer: The Adventures of Giuseppe Tucci and Italian Policy in the Orient from Mussolini to Andreotti. With the Correspondence of Giulio Andreotti, v. 1 is out!
Those of you who pursue studies in the History of Religions, Italian History, Tibetan Buddhism, History of Asian Art, International Politics, Asian Archaeology – and those of you who would like to know a bit more on Giuseppe Tucci, the visits of Gandhi, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tagore, and Subhas Chandra Bose in Italy, and Italian Fascism in India, Afghanistan, and Japan – may wish to read the book just published Il Duce’s Explorer. The Adventures of Giuseppe Tucci and Italian Policy in the Orient from Mussolini to Andreotti. With the Correspondence of Giulio Andreotti, authored by Enrica Garzilli.
This is the 1st out of 9 volumes. This book is the revised and enlarged translation of the omonimous Italian book (1st ed. Memori-Asiatica, Aug. 2012; 3rd ed. April 2014). I want to thank Todd Portnowitz, the translator, who did an excellent job.
Here is a description of the book and a Table of Contents.
When the capital of Tibet was still the mythical “Forbidden City”, a mysterious destination for the most adventurous explorers, when Nepal was covered with forests and swamps, swarming with dangerous beasts and forbidden to foreigners, when Italy was ruled by the Fascist regime greedily eyeing potential colonial possessions in Asia, a learned and adventurous man, the perfect embodiment of that era’s virile ideals, entered places where no Western man had before set foot: crossing glittering peaks of snow, desolate deserts and ruins of ancient cities, constantly challenging himself, he discovered archaeological treasures from past civilizations.Even today, in the East as well as in the West, the name of this intrepid Italian explorer and insatiable researcher is cloaked in an aura of legend.
One could hardly imagine a richer and more exciting life than that of Giuseppe Tucci (1894-1984), the scholar who may quite rightly be considered one of the fathers of modern Oriental Studies and a central protagonist of Fascist cultural policy in Asia: from his first expeditions to the valleys of the Himalayas and the plains of the Ganges, to his diplomatic activity in Japan as spokesman for the Duce; from his encounters with scholars and leaders such as Gandhi, Tagore, the XIV Dalai Lama, Mircea Eliade and Giovanni Gentile, who was his great protector together with Giulio Andreotti, to the archaeological excavations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran in more recent years; a human and intellectual adventure inextricably linked to the history of modern Italy, which he himself helped to forge.
An adventure that can be traced in the pages of this book, where the pace of a thrilling narrative combines with the scientific and historical reconstruction of the Fascist policy in Asia, and of Tucci’s precious creation, the powerful Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East. A history based on eyewitness accounts and historical documents, such as the original and unpublished correspondence between Tucci and Andreotti, Gandhi, Tagore, the XIV Dalai Lama, Mircea Eliade, Giovanni Gentile, the Raj Guru of Nepal, and the historian D. R. Regmi, and the previously unknown notes of Mussolini. An adventure retraced in the pages of this book that reads like an adventure novel.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME 1
1 Index of Maps in Volume 1
xxiii Index of Figures in Volume 1
xxv Preface to the English Edition
lxv Note on the Text
I From Youth to the First Voyage: Enlightened by the Buddha
Back in 2007, long before I published the first biography on Tucci, L’esploratore del Duce (1st ed. 2012), I watched the movie Youth Without Youth, written and directed here in Milan by F. Ford Coppola
I found the film, and still do, to be very moving. It is a reworking of a novel, of the same name, by the Romanian historian of religion, Mircea Eliade. The film features Dominique Matei as its central protagonist (and indeed, the English translation and the introduction of the novel was written by Matei Calinescu) and is a true glorification of the Oriental disciplines. What’s amazing is that the girlfriend of Dominique, after undergoing shock, begins to speak Sanskrit. And who do they call in as an interpreter? Giuseppe Tucci himself—a friend, in real life, of Mircea Eliade.
In Youth without Youth, Tucci is defined as the highest authority of European Sanskrit and Buddhist philosophy—which indeed was the case. He was also presented as the president of IsMEO—which, though its doors are now shut, was at time of the film (in the mid-to-late 1930s) quite prosperous and active.
In truth, the founder and president of the powerful institute of IsMEO was Senator Giovanni Gentile, until his murder in April 1944, by a partisan group. Tucci, instead, served as its executive vice president, until his purge and the compulsory administration of the institute, in 1944. In fact IsMEO and Rome had been elected by the Duce as the “spiritual and ideal guide of Italy and the world.” This is the reason why I call Tucci the explorer, scholar and political “Indiana Jones” of Mussolini.