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Kulturirridentismus oder Masaryk aus Triester italienischer Perspektive

Matteo Colombi

Pages 103 - 136

Cultural Irredentism, Or Masaryk from the Italian Triestine Perspective

This contribution deals with a specific aspect of the reception of Masaryk within Italian culture, especially with the impact of Masaryk’s work on the cultural activity of the Triestine writer Giani Stuparich (1891 – 1961), the author of the survey La nazione czeca [The Czech Nation] (1915 and 1922)—a monograph on Czech history that focuses on the Czech national renaissance in the 19th century and (in the revised and expanded edition of 1922) on the creation of an independent Czechoslovak state after WWI. Stuparich not only highlights the role of Masaryk in this historical process, he thoroughly confirms Masaryk’s perspective on Czech cultural and political history following its turn during the war. Before 1914 Stuparich supports Masaryk’s idea of a reformation of the Hapsburg Monarchy into a state in which all nations and individuals shall have more political and civic rights, while he agrees with Masaryk’s plea for the dissolution of the Hapsburg state from 1914 onwards. The thesis of the present paper is that the consonance between Stuparich’s and Masaryk’s political visions relies in their common Hapsburg background and in a similar way of reacting to its specificities, above all to its multiethnicity. Stuparich belongs to a small group of young irredentists (Italian nationalists) who support the idea of a cultural irredentism, i.e., of a strong autonomy and leading role of Italian culture in Trieste within the context of a cosmopolitan, fair com-petition among the different cultures of the city. Stuparich considers Masaryk’s political ideas on the Hapsburg monarchy and on the Czech lands from this perspective and finds them highly compatible with cultural irredentism. He also considers the Masarykian politics in Czechoslovakia as a continuation of Masaryk’s previous activities since it is based on the respect for and collaboration with the national minorities. In the first years after WWI Stuparich tries to act as a cultural mediator between Czechoslovakia and Italy and to present Masaryk’s way to politics as a program better fitting to Italy and Trieste than Mussolini’s fascism—but he soon gives up his commitment and steps back from public life feeling that neither Masaryk nor cultural irredentism have any impact on his environment.


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