On the Holocaust Memorial Day, dedicated to the Shoah, I would like to clarify the position of Tucci on racism and anti-Semitism. The issue has sparked much controversy in the Roman Jewish community, in Italian media and at parliamentary level, when on May 25, 2010, a widening in Rome was named Largo Giuseppe Tucci in his honor.
The Manifesto of Racist Scientists or Manifesto of Race was published in Il Giornale d’Italia (Newspaper of Italy) on July 15, 1938. Later on were given the names of ten scientists who had “prepared or supported” the document. One of them, professor Nicola Pende, director of the Institute of Special Medical Pathology at the University of Rome, a few months later denied having given his support.
On the Internet and was picked up by some journalists a list of public figures – all men – that would be deployed publicly in favor of the “Manifesto of Race”. Among them politicians, distinguished intellectuals, cartoonists, physiscians, journalists, and Giuseppe Tucci.
The Declaration of Race was approved by the Grand Council of Fascism on October 6, 1938 and a few days after it was published in the Paper of the National Fascist Party (PNF). King Vittorio Emanuele III, under Mussolini proposal, along with the ministers of Foreign Affairs, of Justice, of Finance, and of Corporations, on November 17, 1938 approved a which established the Measures for the Defense of the Italian Race.
Racial discrimination occurred in both public and private sectors and in the education of children born to Jewish relatives: evil should be extinghuished from the start. Finally, the Royal Law of November, 15 1938- XVII integrated and coordinated in a single text the rules for the defense of race in Italian schools. They were hard rules, which, among other things, separated Jewish children in special sections of the school “in places where the number was not less than ten children”, and forbade Jewish adults to obtain the license to teach at university and to become members “of academies, institutes and associations of science, literature and arts. In 1939 Il Duce also established that Jews could not be teachers, notary public, and journalist, and were established special sets of rules for the other professions.
In a few days 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 should be out. Yesterday the graphic designer has finished the cover and today the whole book should go to the printer.
The book is the 1st out of 9 volumes and it’s the enlarged and revised English translation of the Italian book L’Esploratore del Duce. In this version I have also added some 50 original photos.
The endorsement on the back cover has been written by Michael Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit, Dept. of South Asian Studies, Harvard University, whom I thank.
I want also to thank Paul Arpaia, Professor of History at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and H-Italy Editor, Guglielmo Duccoli, Director of L’Illustrazione Italiana, and Sumit Guha, Professor of History at The University of Texas at Austin and H-Asia Editor, who have both written very flattery words on this book, which are included in the first page after the inside front cover. All the above mentioned scholars have also read the Italian book.
As Italy takes up arms and Mussolini sets his eye on supplanting the British Crown – a fact elegantly and rigorously uncovered by Garzilli in these pages – Giuseppe Tucci manages to maneuver his way through the treacherous landscapes of the Himalayas and of Fascist politics to emerge as the country’s foremost scholar and archaeologist of the Orient. His achievement is monumental, and Garzilli’s monumental biography brings him joyously to life, through archival documents, personal letters, travelogues, lectures, interviews, articles, photographs, films, and her own tireless travels. Here is a hunt in search of a hunter. (Michael Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit, Dept. of South Asian Studies, Harvard University)
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.
One could hardly imagine a richer and more exciting life than that of Giuseppe Tucci (1894-1984), a scholar who may rightly be considered one of the fathers of modern Oriental Studies and the central protagonist of Fascist cultural policy in Asia.
From his first expeditions to the valleys and peaks of the Himalayas and the plains of the Ganges, to his encounters with scholars and leaders such as Gandhi, Tagore, the Dalai Lama, Subhas Chandra Bose, and Giulio Andreotti, to his role as Mussolini’s spokesman in Japan — Tucci’s is a human and intellectual adventure tied inextricably to the history of modern Italy, which he himself helped to forge. An adventure that can now be retraced in the pages of this book.
This book on Giuseppe Tucci, his first biography and the first reconstruction of Fascist policy in South and East Asia—after the chapter Renzo de Felice dedicated to this topic in his Il Fascismo e l’Oriente (1988) —was originally written in Italian and published in early 2012, then republished with corrections and additions in August 2012, and finally edited once more and published in April 2014. All in Italian.
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 is the English translation of this work. A wonderful English, I believe, for which I give thanks to my translator, Todd Portnowitz. A qualified young professional in love with Italy, an incredible smart and talented guy whose job is just that—to translate Italian into English.
Todd is a methodical worker and has a keen sense of language and of the beauty of words, a taste and enthusiasm for syntax, meaning, for rendering content in its most elegant form. But Todd is not only that: he is a poet, and what a poet!—as well as a musician and songwriter. His work is excellent, in fact, particularly in capturing Tucci’s own voice, and in translating original documents of the time and literary passages.
Of course the editing of his translation was no easy task. Todd was not used to the language of history, so distant from poetry, and knew very little about Asia, politics, and the like. Meanwhile, I am as fussy as they come—I want a translation to convey exactly what I mean. Moreover, while I may accept a slight change to my language, as long as the meaning is conserved, in order to adapt it to the English, I demand that all original documents are translated word for word. Mistakes included. That is, I have asked for a diplomatic translation of these passages. Very little or virtually nothing should be left to interpretation, particularly now, at a distance of a few decades, and in this completely different context. We have no right to alter their words, their intentions, their meaning and, if possible, their style.
Three versions of the text —with minor changes and ameliorations, questions, points of discussion—went back and forth between New York and Milan. And I am very glad that Todd questioned me and my various solutions, that he challenged me, that more often than expected we came to the same conclusion. And that he improved the text. I hope that he learned from me as much as I learned from him.
This lengthy post is all to say one simple thing: Thank you Todd! I am grateful to you. And I am happy to have chosen you, among many others, to work with. And to have met you here in Milan!
P.s. You can follow Il Duce’s Explorer: The Adventures of Giuseppe Tucci on Facebook – and in Italian, at Giuseppe Tucci, L’esploratore del Duce. Chat with me on Twitter or write me on my public page. I can be reached my email at Asiatica Association info_at_asiatica_dot_org
Who can forget the archaeologist and adventurer, Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones? Well, Giuseppe Tucci was not only a famed archaeologist and adventurer, but a famed scholar, a famed explorer, a famed collector of manuscripts and artworks, a famed spokesman for Mussolini in India, Nepal, and Japan (where his propaganda activity was fundamental to the diplomatic relations that led to the Anti-Comintern Pact, which Italy joined on November 6, 1937), a spy for the Fascist Regime, and for all his life a renowned lady-killer
And his adventures as a scholar, archaeologist, and president of the Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente (Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East - IsMEO, later ISIAO, and now closed) continued beyond the days of Fascism and into the Democrazia Cristiana, the Christian Democracy—a political party co-founded and later led by Giulio Andreotti, who for 37 years supported Tucci’s undertakings.
Below is an interview I gave to Federico Chitarin, Le imprese di Giuseppe Tucci, l’Indiana Jones di Mussolini, in Memori Mese-Mensile, October 24, 2012. It’s a short biography of Tucci. Happy reading!
Le imprese di Giuseppe Tucci, l’Indiana Jones di Mussolini
Che utilizzo fecero il fascismo prima e la Democrazia Cristiana poi della sua figura?
Quali difficoltà ha incontrato?Ricerca archivistica specie in India, in Nepal, in Italia, in Inghilterra, in USA, ricerca su fonti e documenti, interviste, ricostruzione della storia non solo di Tucci ma della politica dell’Italia fascista, che era ferma a Renzo De Felice, ricerca di foto originali dell’epoca (anche di Gandhi a Palazzo Venezia a Roma e di Tagore) e disegni delle mappe dei viaggi in India e delle spedizioni, 8 in Tibet e 5 o 6 in Nepal, con l’aiuto di un giornalista inforgrafico, Marco Goldoni. Soggiorni inei paesi visitati da Tucci, Ovviamente, lettura di tutte le circa 350 opere di Tucci e di una vasta bibliografia commessa. Ho anche ricostruito e incluso la biografia di 1360 personaggi politici, religiosi, culturali o mitologici citati nel libro che ebbero rapporti con Tucci, di cui talvota si sa poco o niente o di cui non si sapevano certi aspetti biografici inerenti al periodo storico.
Che reazione si aspetta dal mondo politico e accademico? Era atteso un testo del genere?
Esiste attualmente una figura a lui analoga, chi è il Tucci di oggi?
I am author of the first biography of Giuseppe Tucci, a man so unique and complex. It was published both in Italian and in English, in the magazine Identità Sibillina -n. 2, year 2006. Below you’ll find the English text of A Great Man from Macerata Who Went Far: Giuseppe Tucci, the Marches Region and the East.
You can read and download my publications on Academia.edu. You can follow me on Facebook, or through the Facebook pages on Giuseppe Tucci in Italian and in English – Il Duce’s Explorer. The Adventures of Giuseppe Tucci. And you can chat with me on Twitter.
Below is the full text of the article.
A GREAT MAN FROM MACERATA WHO WENT FAR: GIUSEPPE TUCCI, THE MARCHES REGION AND THE EAST
by Enrica Garzilli
The scientist and explorer Giuseppe Tucci thus wrote about his journeys to Asia and his passion for travelling and experiencing “the far”: far from the banality and superficiality of everyday and massified relationships. And he really did go far, as he was the greatest expert in oriental studies that Italy has ever had and one of the best internationally recognised experts on Tibet, he was one of the first scientists in the world to explore the hitherto unexplored regions of Tibet and Nepal, he was an anthropologist, archaeologist, and he disseminated Asia culture, both ancient and contemporary – and he was a journalist too.
Tucci, the only legendary Italian oriental expert in the whole of Asia, gave the world a better understanding of the greatest Asiatic religions, and his critical editions and original translations of valuable texts in Sanskrit and in Tibetan opened up southern Asia to scholars. With his legendary scientific expeditions to Tibet, Nepal, Ladhak, Sikkim, and Bhutan he opened up these countries to geographers and modern travellers.
His work of discovery, restoration and preservation of rare manuscripts, which are today kept in Rome in the Tucci Foundation of the Oriental Library of IsIAO, the former IsMEO (Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East), safe from the inevitable dangers of the Asiatic climate, worms and rats – as specified in the descriptions of the microfilms that reproduce the manuscripts –, and from the even graver threat of destruction by man, due to both the Cultural Revolution when China annexed Tibet, and the greed of merchants and ignorant neglect, and his expeditions to the then almost inaccessible territories in the Himalayas, gave those countries a final place in history, and not only in the work of scholars. Moreover, following in the footsteps of his mentor Formichi, he updated the ways of studying oriental languages, with a first-hand understanding of the culture expressed by those languages, enriching the patrimony of knowledge of the world.
Tucci was born in Macerata on the 5TH of June 1894. His father Oscar and his mother Ermenegilda Firmani had emigrated to the Marches from Puglia. Something much stronger than birthright ties Tucci to the Marches. Perhaps it was the proximity of his native town and land to the sea, which has always brought different peoples, altough very distant, together as much as it has separated them; or perhaps, belonging to a region which has produced so many travellers and explorers of the East; whatever the reason, Tucci was immediately acclaimed as an ‘infant prodigy’ towards the East and, as he himself said, when he was only twelve he already knew Sanskrit, Hebrew and Iranian.