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SENTENTIA. European Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences
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“The October Revolution is Still Shaking Our World”: Italians on the centennial anniversary of 1917 / «Великая Октябрьская революция все еще с нами»: итальянцы о юбилее 1917 года

Голечкова Ольга Юрьевна

кандидат исторических наук

старший научный сотрудник, Международный Научный Исследовательский центр "АИРО-XXI" (Ассоциация исследователей Российского общества)

107207, Россия, г. Москва, ул. Чусовская, 11 к. 7, кв. 35

Golechkova Olga

PhD in History

Senior Scientific Associate, International Research Center "AIRO-XXI" (Association of Researchers of Russian Society)

107207, Russia, g. Moscow, ul. Chusovskaya, 11 k. 7, kv. 35

o.golechkova@yandex.ru
Другие публикации этого автора
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/1339-3057.2021.1.33782

Дата направления статьи в редакцию:

29-08-2020


Дата публикации:

13-05-2021


Аннотация: В данной статье анализируется отдельный случай в рамках тенденции юбилеемании – как недавнее столетие революции 1917 года отмечалось в Италии. Автор считает, что многие исторические события возвращаются к жизни не просто так, а когда они должны играть важную роль в современной политике. В статье показывается, как итальянцы видят революции и как с их помощь объясняется современная Россия. Исследование подготовлено в рамках методологии публичной истории. Изучив многочисленные источники разного типа (онлайн статьи, статьи в газетах и журналах, научные исследования, также мы привлекли информацию о конгрессах и конференциях, выставках, концертах и др.).   Данная статья – это первая попытка показать, как русские революции отражены в итальянском общественном мнении. В результате исследования делается вывод, что революция играет важную роль не только в современной России, но и в Италии. По мнению итальянцев, революция продолжает жить и в их культуре, и в политике, соизмеряется с их собственным путем в политической истории XX века, в том числе с мощным левым движением, которое существовало в стране после Второй мировой войны. В то же время в России отмечали юбилей недостаточно, обращая большее внимание на годовщины победы над Гитлером, поскольку это событие проецирует былую славу Советского Союза на современную Российскую Федерацию.


Ключевые слова: политика памяти, юбилеемания, Октябрьская революция, Февральская революция, большевики, Ленин, Сталин, Троцкий, коммунизм, пропаганда

Abstract: This article analyzes an isolated case within the framework of trend of jubilee mania – recent centenary celebration of the Revolution of 1917 in Italy. The author believes that many historical events reappear on the horizon when assigned to play an important role in modern politics. The article describes how the Italians view the Revolution and how it helps to explain modern Russia. The research is carried out within the framework of methodology of public history. Having examined a wide variety of sources (online articles, articles in newspapers and magazines, scientific writings, information on the congresses and conferences, exhibitions, concerts, etc.), the author attempts to demonstrate how the Russian revolutions are reflected in the Italian public opinion. The conclusion is made that the Revolution plays an important role not only in modern Russia, in Italy as well. The latter believe that the Revolution is still present in their culture and politics, correlates with their own path of political history of the XX century, including the powerful Movement for the left that emerged in the country after the World War II. At the same time, Russia did not give due attention to celebration of the centennial anniversary, focusing rather on the victory over Hitler, since this event projects the glory of the Soviet Union onto the modern Russian Federation.



Keywords:

Trotsky, Stalin, Bolsheviks, Lenin, February Revolution, October Revolution, jubilee mania, politics of memory, Communism, propaganda

Introduction

Jubilee mania is not a new tendency in the world historiography. Its traces can be found in the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries celebrations of various anniversaries. In the 19th century a true «rise in anniversary dates» was observed. The celebrations of the centenaries of the American and French revolutions in 1876 and 1889 respectively were notable events that had a great resonance in public opinions of the two powers and abroad. In both cases, these celebrations were powerful propaganda events that had to show these state regimes in a positive light and demonstrate their achievements [1, p. 20, 48].

The end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries «turned out to be a period of unprecedented boom of anniversary celebrations» [2, p. 160]. During the reign of Nicholas II one hundred and sixty major celebrations took place [3, p. 98–108]. For instance, an important jubilee of the period was the 200 years of St. Petersburg in 1903 [2, p. 160], then the Romanov dynasty 300th anniversary in 1913.

It seems that many historical events are brought back to life in our modern reality when they are supposed to play an important role in today politics. At the end of the 20th century, two important jubilees were celebrated in the world – 200th of American and French revolutions. Anniversary celebrations 1975−1976 in the USA were held in a difficult period both economically and politically. Gerald Ford administration successfully used the anniversary to unite the nation, reminding the Americans of the events related to the struggle for the independence. They exploited all propaganda means: from the media to grandiose spectacular events. Overall, both anniversaries – in France and in the United States caused an unprecedented hype in the society [1, p. 49, 34, 35].

One of the most important events in modern Russia are the Great Patriotic War Victory anniversaries. Every year since 1995 there has been a pompous parade. Even though it is almost 75th Anniversary, the Russian government keeps using victory’s power and glory to shield its face from difficult questions, divert public’s attention from «the catastrophic state of affairs (…) in the country as a whole» [4, p. 218].

Meanwhile European countries, like France, prefer celebrating the First World War over the unfortunate Second World War. So, in both 2014 and 2018 (100th Anniversaries of the beginning and the end of the First World war respectively) there were multiple events and exhibitions organised to commemorate the event [5, p. 545–552].

Another example is the fuss created around Stolypin’s figure. The anniversary years were 2011 and 2012 (100 years since Stolypin’s death and 150 since his birth), but all the hype started a few years earlier. Stolypin was chosen by the Russian political establishment to be a role model for the modern politicians. There were various monuments devoted to Stolypin, universities called after him, a medal created, multiple books and articles published. At the same time, some steps towards the mythologisation of this historical figure were taken. Using this example, we can see how power evokes chimeras of the past in order to show its own regime in a more positive light. It chooses a certain historical figure and edits it by adding missing characteristics to match the necessary image. Then this figure is actively promoted and subsequently used to deflect general public attention from currently important matters. The power and its representatives then wait for the light from the newly created idol to be reflected on its creators. Therefore, it can be seen that in such a way history is used to «fill» lacunae in the book of modern political reality [6, p. 133].

The 1917 Russian revolution changed lives not only in the Imperial Russia, but all over the world. No surprise that it is still echoing in modern events. The 100-anniversaries of both the 2017 February and October revolutions were celebrated worldwide. Some might think that 100 years later passions would have cooled, but they did not, not even close, and the jubilee stirred things up even more. Throughout 2017 multiple events were organized, articles and books published practically in every corner of the world. China, the United States, Latin American countries, Europe – all joined in the chorus of contradictory opinions on the Russian revolutions. The revolutionary theme caused the expected excitement, for example, in Latin America, China, where socialist ideas are traditionally widespread [7, p. 647; 8, 638]. Meanwhile in France the anniversary mostly provoked uncertainty. The French did not understand why the Russians never took advantage of the «democratic achievements» of the revolution; why the precepts of Vladimir Lenin and his legacy sank into oblivion, while Iosif Stalin, associated in Europe exclusively with totalitarianism, is respected in Russia and remains a symbol of the state [9, 708].

Brief historiographical overview

Writing about jubilees have become rather popular in the last two decades. To mention a few, Tsimbaev talks about anniversaries as a method of ideological legitimation of power at the end of the nineteenth – beginning of the twentieth centuries [10, p. 42–51].[i] Wortman also speaks about anniversary celebrations as specific attempts by the authorities to force the time to work for themselves [11].

Barsenkov, Vdovin and Koretsky study some of the Soviet anniversaries as a part of national policy [12, p. 110]. Perrie writes about several of the Soviet Union historical jubilees while analysing the cult of Ivan the Terrible in Stalin’s Russia [13, p. 34].

Bordjugov explains why historical commemorative events take on a cult character and how they turn into a symbolic support of different regimes of power [4, p. 7, 9]. Another important book edited by Bordjugov is the 100th Revolution anniversary monitoring results. This huge project presented the reflection on the topic using electronic media, the Web, works of fiction and film, official and public events, exhibition and museum events, research and various publications. A separate direction is the view on the anniversary in the post-Soviet space and in the world. The large-scale comprehensive analysis allows the reader to compose a representative idea of how effective turned out to be an understanding of the meaning and lessons of the 100th anniversary of 1917 both for the society and for the government (Almost four dozens of researchers from all over the world took part in the project) [14, p. 7]. The articles of the collection deal with a number of different angles concerning the jubilee. Andreev writes about the Kremlin policy around the anniversary, Sokolov – about the Revolution in the cinema and literature, Bebeshi and Collontari – about how the Revolution anniversary is seen in Hungary, Frederiksen – in Scandinavian countries [15, p. 106–132; 16, 359–422; 17, p. 601–624; 18, p. 724–745]. Orlovsky and Kolonitskii write about the research done for the Centennial of the Revolution (2017) [19, p. 223–224].

***

This article analyses how our Italian contemporaries see the Revolutions. Although over the past quarter century the 1917 Revolutions have lost some of their importance (in comparison with the Soviet period), these events play an important role in modern life. This article aims to demonstrate this new demand for the Revolution in order to help understand what is happening today. We would like to show how contemporary Italians used the Revolution to explain modern Russia. We will study whether certain memorial events in Russia connected with the anniversary will be narrated impartially or there will be willingness to show these events in a certain light. Also, we would like to analyse how the anniversary is reflected in the works of art.

As in other countries, over the period of 2016–2017, a large number of articles were published in Italy, congresses and exhibitions were held, new books published on the Russian Revolution. Among them are some unoriginal works and plain events, as well as bright festivities, thorough research and interesting articles.

It is worth noting that many authors of the articles and books belong to the left flank of the political scene. It is logical that many of them took up the pen to distribute and assert their ideas. Among the cited authors there is a large number of adherents of the revolution and socialism, Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. Interestingly, the format of some events, the nature of speeches, vocabulary of articles – all these evoke a sense of deja vu from the Soviet Union.

This research is done within the methodology of public history, meaning that to construct a relatively objective picture of today we use various means, including the opinion of the public. The research time period is the revolutionary year, beginning in October 2016 and finishing in 2017 on November the 7th, the day of the October revolution (to have a fuller picture we also used a few works from the earlier period).

The article is divided into three thematic parts. Firstly, we speak about the role Revolution plays in modern life, secondly, we analyse how the Italians see its history and, thirdly, we discuss the ways the Revolution influenced art.

Revolution in the modern world

Revolution miraculously found its way into our modern life. Many authors observe its traces in the reality of different countries [20, p. 569–588; 21, 541–568]. In Italy in September 2016 Espresso put an image of Donald Trump on its cover made to look like Vladimir Lenin on the famous poster where Lenin points to the bright communist future with his right index finger, while in the bottom left corner there is a red flag waving. In the article «The October revolution à L'américaine» Tommaso Cerno explains how Trump, «historical enemy of communism», ended up leading people towards the sun of the communist future. He claims that American president became «the symbol of the new October revolution». He took power the same way Lenin did, when a very conservative political system that made it impossible for a person from the outside to get in, suddenly gave in [22]. This kind of comparison does not seem very relevant as we can find very few similarities between the Russian Empire of the beginning of the 20th century and the 21st century United States, even fewer – between a fringe underground political leader organizing a coup and a wealthy talked-about businessman winning the elections.

Many authors see a lot of connections between the Revolutions and the modernity, so to talk about 1917 does not mean speaking of the past but of the present [23]. A few claim that the Revolution is still happening, it is an element of the modern world [24]. Moreover, some authors go further claiming that, having been the dominant ideology for 70 years, communism «has not found peace yet», its «ghost is still present». Besides, even though for many communism is almost an insult, there is a new wave of popularity for this movement. It is particularly popular among Italians as modern communism is more democratic, it is close to feminism, it talks about esthetics and free personality development [25].

Many authors believe that the Centenary of the Russian revolution of 1917 gives an opportunity to rethink modern Russia or even to explain it [23; 26]. For example, there is an opinion that it is impossible to completely forget about the 1917 jubilee because the modernization of Russia was largely accomplished by the Soviet regime and because of the importance of the figure of Stalin [23].

Various authors talk about Vladimir Putin and his attitude towards the Revolution. For instance, Rosallba Castelletti points out that the epoch-making event of 1917 was not celebrated properly in Russia, despite Putin claiming that «Russian society needs an objective, honest, deep analysis of these events» [27]. Castelletti claims that only a few minor events were organized [28]. Unfortunately, the journalist neglected to check this statement. A simple search in the Russian Internet would have shown her dozens of events and exhibitions that took place (Irina Davidyan mentions over 40 exhibitions – [29, p. 423–454]).

We can observe in the works of the Italians that they see Putin in a historical paradox: he is stuck between two myths and can not choose which one to follow: he presents himself as tsar’s successor, but he is also nostalgic about the glorious times of the Soviet Empire. The president accuses Lenin of planting «a bomb» under the foundation of the USSR, which ultimately led to the collapse of the state – «the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century» [30]. It seems that Putin is trying to appeal to the people’s nostalgia for the Soviet times.

Besides, Lenin is seen in a rather negative light as someone who undermined the Russian political system, while Stalin, «the rebuilder of the state <… > and the winner of the Second World War» is well respected [28; 31; 32]. Many agree that Putin did not want to celebrate the 1917 Anniversary – it is not such an important date as the celebration of the victory over the Nazis. This event has become a true Russian national holiday, and its celebration year after year becomes more sumptuous [33; 28]. Besides, the current leadership derives some of its current geopolitical claims from it.

Russian public opinion is really divided on the evaluation of the revolutionary event, but in the recent decades there has been a sharp increase in the percentage of those who consider it in a negative way. Recent polls have shown that Russians indeed see Stalin positively – 70% of respondents said so. However, unlike some Italians think, it seems he is not «the most beloved historical leader» [33] – in 2018 All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center presented a list of figures of the beginning of the 20th century that arouse sympathy among the Russians. Nicholas II (54%) took the first place, and Stalin followed. Another figure that became more popular recently was Lenin – in 2018 polls presented a list of figures of the beginning of the twentieth century that arouse sympathy among the Russians; and Lenin took the third place with 49% [34].

Therefore, we can come to a conclusion (as well as some Italian authors) that the nostalgia for the Soviet Union is a sentiment shared by the majority in Russia. Indeed, Putin says that the collapse of the USSR has become the event that had the greatest influence on his life [35; 30]. Some conclude that, paradoxically, the revolution – or the coup – of October 1917 was a negative event, but the country that was born of it is to regret [33].

Several authors compare modern Russia directly with the USSR. There is a need among the masses to return to playing a leading role on the world stage, similar to the USSR [36]. Besides, both states demonstrated grand geopolitical ambitions, for example, modern Russia exhibited its military power in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria [26].

Some Italians insist that if you go to Moscow, you will realise that the Great revolution is still there. First, the great Vladimir Lenin is there, in the mausoleum on the Red Square. Secondly, multiple streets have his relatives’ names (Krupskaya street is dedicated to Lenin’s wife, Maria Ulianova street – to his sister etc.). The very central metro stations celebrate the great October revolution (Oktyabr’skaya, Biblioteca imeni Lenina and others); besides, there are various monuments and symbols: the red stars and the hammer and sickles [26; 28].

Various authors say that they care a lot about the Revolution, some of them even «dreamt of revolution» [37]. Historian Le Moal is nostalgic about the events – he thinks nowadays the poor and the oppressed in Russia need to organize à la Marxists (or/and Bolsheviks) of the beginning of the 20th century: in order to defend their interests and get rid of capitalism, as well as to build a democratic society [38].

Thus, we can see how the Revolutions keep on living not only in the modern world, but also in the minds of our contemporary Italians, in their texts. Some authors found relevant comparisons between modern politicians and the Revolutionary leaders of 1917. Many saw how communism has transformed over the last century and in its renewed form plays an important part in modern Italy.

A few authors think revolutionary ideals are more than up-to-date and feel only these can help the contemporary Russia to deal with its problems: lack of democracy, poverty, and others. Meanwhile many authors agree that Russian politicians choose not to pay too much attention to the Revolution, preferring more «positive» anniversaries to celebrate, such as the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazism. This kind of dates can significantly influence Russian imperial greatness and bring back to life the memories of the former glory that can project some of its light on the new Russia and make it seem stronger.

The history of the Revolutions

In this section we will discuss how Italians see the history of the Russian revolutions. Do they see it in a positive light? Do they know much about the February and October events? Do they see the two Revolutions as one process or separate events?

In the year of the Anniversary multiple internet sources and social media published various articles, chronicling what happened in 1917 and describing the main events to the general public. Quite a few scientific works came out as well. Some explain the revolutions in an impartial way, some provide a fresh perspective, present an interesting view, but overall, the vast majority of the books and articles demonstrate, although interesting for general Italian public, quite an obvious view on the events for the Russian historians. Moreover, some articles reproduce popular myths that were dispelled decades ago in Russian historiography (for example, the exaggeration of Rasputin’s and the Empress’s roles), and thus these fictions are passed on to the general public.

We will take the text by Giacomo Pacini as an example of popular myths. For instance, during the First World War, Nicholas II left Russia in the hands of the «Tsarina» (the Empress), the woman of «reactionary views». Pacini also claims that in the previous period Russia was in the hands of «the dubious consultant of the cowardly tsar – the mystical monk Rasputin», thus exaggerating his influence [39].

Another famous myth is the important role of Stalin during the October events (even though he was not there at the time). This myth was created during Stalin’s rule [40]. Fabrizio Dragosei addresses some other myths and misconceptions concerning the events of the Great October. He explains how some of the myths were constructed thanks to the film «October» by Sergei Eisenstein. For example, Dragosei explains that mass scenes of the taking of the Winter Palace by the workers, soldiers and peasants in the film did not actually take place [41]. In reality, on 7 November 1917 there was a coup d’état organized and implemented by a small minority of Bolshevik activists. This theme – the role of the Bolsheviks in the October events – also became a part of the discussion in Italy. Some authors highlight that the Bolsheviks were a minority, a slandered and persecuted group that rose to power in no time, embodying the future adapted «The Internationale» famous quote «We are nothing, let us be all» [42]. The opposite point of view was presented, for example, by Paolo Mieli who thinks that Lenin’s seizure of power was not accidental. He writes that Lenin returned from Europe to Russia on a train made available by the Germans who were the enemy of the Empire [37].

Some authors chose particular topics or figures connected with the Revolution to write about. Quite a few wrote about revolutionary leaders, such as Lenin or Lev Trotsky. One of the popular themes in the year of the Anniversary was the role of women in the events. All the authors emphasise that women were crucial protagonists of the revolutionary events that shook Russia [43]. Among other popular topic was the controversial role anti-Semitism played in the revolutionary process, national question and others [44].

Italians also talk about the Revolution as a process and not a set of events. Several of them emphasise that quite often when discussing the Revolution, the attention is limited to the events of 1917, sometimes only to the Great October or even to «ten days that turned the world», while it is necessary to understand the revolutionary processes taking a larger period into consideration [38; 24].

Additionally, many other authors highlight that the overthrow of the Russian Empire in 1917 destabilized not only the entire European political landscape, but also influenced the development of multiple countries all over the world. For example, Luciano Canfora writes about the influence the events in Russia had on the great revolutions of the 20th century [45]. Roberto Festorazzi agrees with the latter, emphasizing the impact the Russian revolution had on Italy and other allies in the First World War [46]. Flores says that the creation of the first socialist state led to the discredit of socialism. The imposition of the Soviet communism as the only possible political model replaced socialism, therefore discrediting socialist ideas all over the world [47].

Besides, many other events and publications celebrated the Anniversary year. In March-April of 2017 the conference «100 Years of the Russian Revolution» was held in Bologna [48].Various professors gave special lectures about the Revolutionary events of 1917, for instance, Pier Luigi Ferrara and Matteo Saudino [49; 50]. Also, some other books were published, one way or another connected with the anniversary. For example, the work of Robert Conquest is about Stalinism [51].

To sum up, we can see that multiple articles and books have been published for the 1917 Anniversaries, among these are serious academic investigations, some brief articles, reproducing myths that are 100 years old; also, there were a few academic events. Historians and journalists see the Revolutions differently: some admire revolutionary leaders and their actions, many note how serious the repercussions of 1917 were and how drastically they changed the world.

Art in the Revolution

Art plays an important role in the life of Italians, so it is not surprising that many of them expressed their respect for the Revolution and their emotions about the anniversary through literature, theater, music, cinema, painting, dance, and poetry. First of all, Italians see the Revolution as a liberation of the Arts from the despotism of tsarism. According to them, the Revolution became an innovation in the sphere of Arts. In addition, the Italians took this opportunity to commemorate the victims of the totalitarian regimes.

Paolo Mieli, a historian and columnist for Corriere della Sera, presented a show «Era d’ottobre» («The October era») at Teatro Palazzo in Bari. This show was created to interpret, in an original way, the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, linking it to the rereading of the communist utopia in the world and in Italy. «The revolution, – explained Mieli – has many meanings. The tone is undoubtedly linked to the eighteenth-twentieth century profile, to the seizure of power with weapons, but in other meanings it pre-exists the French revolution and that of October. Now when this term is used it no longer refers to armed groups that go to storm palaces».

The theatrical representation allowed Mieli to present what could be called a «regime change», «through the direct confrontation with the public, being able to capture reactions and emotions». The iconography united the idea of the revolution with a festive image, from «The march on Rome» (1933) by Giacomo Balla to the posters celebrating Lenin. But Mieli points out, «Mao was right: the revolution <…> goes down in history as a joyous epic, while these radical changes» are often terrible and «impose unspeakable sacrifices on the people» [37].

From May till July, a festival dedicated to 1917 was held in Ravenna. The festival was called «The Noise of Time» after the title of a novel by Julian Barnes, dedicated to the composer Dmitry Shostakovich, who was branded by Stalin as «an enemy of the people». «”Ten days that shook the world” became a unique opportunity for radical movements in the creative field as well; explosive forces arose from the ruins of the Tsar empire, innovative artistic languages that marked the modern era» [52]. That is precisely why the festival was inspired by the year 1917, the year that changed the face of the Russian Art. There was a revolution in music, theater, poetry, and cinema inspired by personalities such as Alexander Mosolov, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Kazemir Malevich, El Lissitzky [53].

The Twentieth Century History Festival «Libertà e uguaglianza» («Freedom and equality») held in Forli also focused on the Revolution Anniversary. The recital «Lui non ha scampo» («He has no escape») took place at the Félix Guattari Theater. During the show, musicians performed Vladimir Vysotsky’s songs in Italian, in unpublished arrangements by Roberto Bartoli and Daniele Santimone [54].

On June 28th, the Aligieri Theater hosted a concert show «1917», created by ErosAntEros, David Sacco and Agata Tomsic on the occasion of the Centenary. This show used sound and vocal to embody the words and music of some Russian poets and composers who lived for the Revolution and experienced «both a great initial impulse and the subsequent tragic disappointment with the arrival of the totalitarianism». Agata Tomsic chose tragic words of «the defeated» and devasted thinkers such as A. Blok, V. Khlebnikov, S. Yesenin, M. Gershenzon, V. Mayakovsky and B. Pasternak. The Nus quartet performed the String quartet No. 8 by Shostakovich, «with its tragic sound, dedicated to the victims of all totalitarian regimes». This quartet was played to contrast the heartbreaking music with the poets’ confidence and optimism about the Russian revolution. Tomsik explains the purpose of the performance: we invite the public to «rethink the present through the reflection on the past», imagining tools for transforming the reality [54].

On the 18th of June a concert of Daniele Lombardi took place. His music is dedicated to the work of a great painter, graphic artist, architect El Lissitzky who provoked Lombardi’s compositional experiments with the title «Red Wedge» (the well-known propaganda poster by El Lissitzky «Beat The Whites With The Red Wedge», of the civil war period, 1920). Besides, Lombardi performed compositions by Aleksandr Scriabin and Arthur Vincent Lurie. Thus, we see how music becomes part of the revolutionary processes. And then nowadays we relive some of the 1917 emotions through the music [55].

On February 25th, Venice held an exhibition of revolutionary posters. Meanwhile the Festival «Libertà e uguaglianza» hosted an important exhibition of 95 photos taken from the great exhibition «Gulag» by a Polish photographer Tomasz Kizny.

In Nuoro, from June 1st to October 1st, another exhibition on the anniversary of the Revolution took place, organised by il MAN and the Sardinia Foundation. The exhibition was called «Love and Revolution. Famous couples of artists in the Russian avant-garde». The main goal of the exhibition was to study the relationship between the personal and the artistic lives of the heroes in such a special period from historical and aesthetic point of view. The exposition took an innovative perspective – it attempted to revise the avant-garde visual events in Russia through the contribution of six authors of the first generation, united not only in the search of new expressive languages, but also in personal life: Natalia Goncharova (1881–1962) and Mikhail Larionov (1881–1964), Varvara Stepanova (1894–1958) and Alexander Rodchenko (1891–1956), Lyubov Popova (1889–1924) and Alexander Vesnin (1883–1959). Accompanying the desire to combine all types of artistic creativity with aesthetics, theoretical development and a political perspective, avant-garde artists helped to support the pursuit to change and build the foundations of a new society idea [56].

Simona Maggiorelli, talking about the events of the February Revolution, highlights that these events are still the subject of study, and not only at the economic and political level, but primarily at the art history level. And in art, «the progressive dream» of «a new man» and a fairer society helped the imagination of the artists [57].

Thus, we can see how music and art become part of the revolutionary processes, so our contemporaries from Italy had an opportunity to relive some of the 1917 emotions through creative means. Explosive forces arose from the ruins of the Tsar empire, devising innovative artistic languages that marked the modern era. Besides, the progressive dream of «a new man» and a fairer society «fueled the imagination of the artists».

Conclusions

To sum up, we have analysed multiple sources on how Italians see the Great 1917 Revolutions. We can see that a jubilee once again has become an important part of their everyday life. Dozens of articles and books have been published for the anniversaries: among these are serious academic investigations, some brief articles, reproducing myths that are 100 years old or more; also, there were a few academic events, festivals and multiple exhibitions.

What is the composite image of the Revolution in the eyes of the Italians? Most likely it is multifaceted, ambiguous and controversial. A large number of representatives of various extremes of the political spectrum spoke out on the anniversary of the October and February Revolutions; conferences and congresses were organized, personal and collective opinions expressed. Some will be amazed or glad that the Italians were so enthusiastic about the anniversaries close to our hearts. Meanwhile, if you take a closer look, the majority of those who spoke on this subject will be if not representatives of the Italian Socialist Party or the Union of Marxists, then at least they will belong to the left flank of the political scale. Indeed, for Italy, the anniversary is an occasion to talk again about communism, which many consider to be once again popular.

Historians and journalists note how serious the repercussions of 1917 were and how drastically they changed the world. There are also those who criticize the Bolsheviks and the Revolution. For example, criticism from the left flank is caused by the fact that the USSR monopolized and then discredited socialism, preventing it from testing other socialist models.

Besides, we can see how the Revolutions still live in the modern world, not only in the minds and hearts of Italians, but also in their texts. Some authors found relevant comparisons between modern politicians and the Revolutionary leaders of 1917. Another important tendency is to see the revolutionary ideals as up-to-date. Several authors even think the Revolutions and their experience can be used to help change the Italian political culture. A few other authors saw how communism has transformed over the last century and in its renewed form plays a significant part in modern Italy.

We can observe a similar trend for the contemporary Russia: some Italians feel that only Revolutionary ideals can help modern Russia to fight its problems: lack of democracy, poverty and others. Moreover, the overwhelming consensus among the Italian authors is that Russian politicians choose not to pay too much attention to the Revolution, preferring to celebrate more «positive» jubilees: 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty and the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. These dates can significantly influence the imperial greatness of Russia and bring back to life the memories of the former glory that can project some of its light on the new Russia and make it seem stronger and more grandiose.

Besides, Italian authors draw analogies between the Putin regime and the Soviet Union. Although some criticize Putin, there are still many who emphasize the president’s strength. Perhaps we can agree with Castelletti that Russian propaganda is trying to force Russia to have its cake and eat it too – become simultaneously the successor of both the Russian Empire and the USSR, states with very different ideological principles. And this in turn confirms the already repeatedly formulated fact that the modern Russian ideologists have not yet fully decided on the ideology.

Also, art plays an important role in the life of Italians, so it is not surprising that many of them expressed their respect for the Revolution and their emotions about the anniversary through literature, theater, music, cinema, painting, dance, and poetry. We can see how music and art have become part of the revolutionary processes. The year 1917 changed the face of Russian art. First of all, Italians see the Revolution as a liberation of the arts from the despotism of tsarism. This process fueled the imagination of the artists, creating innovative artistic languages. Italians organised quite a few exhibitions to commemorate the Anniversary. Musical, artistic and theatrical events glorified the Revolution. Heroes such as A. Mosolov, V. Mayakovsky, K. Malevich, El Lissitzky, N. Goncharova played an important role: their works were used to connect the revolutionary art with modern reality.

Analysing the historical events, Italian authors more often consider the Russian revolution in the context of other events in European history. Italians are attracted by the democratic side of revolutions – the introduction of various rights and freedoms, the praise of the role of women, emancipation, the freedom of art.

At the beginning of 2017, we assumed that everyone would write mainly about the October, and the February would not be given due attention, but in the Italian case this is not entirely true. Many authors spoke in detail about both revolutions. We also made assumptions that among all the other articles and books scientific works would be completely lost or would not be broadcast to the masses, but this did not happen either. As an example, we can take the «tour» of the historian Angelo d’Orsi practically throughout Italy with the presentation of the book «The year of the Revolution».

Thus, we can conclude that the Russian Revolution really has a certain popularity in Italy, especially in the left circles. The Italians enthusiastically embraced the anniversary as an opportunity to talk once again about Marx and Lenin, Trotsky and Kollontai. They think that the ghost of the Revolutions is still here, playing an important part in modern life. For many authors communist ideas are «more alive than anything», moreover, they are developing and are quite applicable in the 21st century.

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