A Selection translated and introduced by Hamish Henderson, Zwan in association with the Edinburgh Review, 1988 (1974)
* 1891, Ales in Sardinia, Italy, † 1937, Rome, Iatly
Charge: Conspiracy, agitation provoking class war, insurrection and alteration of the constitution
Prison: Turi Prison, Italy (Map)
Arrest 8th November 1926 in Romein Regina Coeli Prison, and after six weeks in political exile on the island of Ustica, 30 miles off the north coast of Sicilly, he was taken to San Vittore Prison in Milan, where he remained until May 1928. Put on trial on 28th May, he was sentenced to 20 years, 4 months and 5 days imprisonment. One of the Prosecutors said: “We must prevent this brain from functioning for 20 years.”
He wrote 21 of these notebooks until he left Turi for the clinic in Formia (19th November 1933). By 1935 there were 2,848 tightly packed pages in no less than 33 notebooks. In 1932, a project for exchanging prisoners including Gramsci between the Soviet Union and Italy failed. In 1934 his health deteriorated severely and he gained conditional freedom, after having already visited some hospitals in Civitavecchia, Formia and Rome. He died in Rome at the age of 46, shortly after being released from prison; he is buried in the Protestant Cemetery there. On 19th July 1928 he arrived at the “Pennitentiary for Physically Handicapped Prisoners” at Turi, near Bari (five years) It was not until 1929 that he received permission to write anything other than letters in his cell; on 8 Februar of that year he began making notes in the first of the Quaderni del Carcere.
The Letters collected here were written between 20, November 1926 from Rome Prison and 1937, probably written at the clinic in Formia. Gramsci dies on 27 April 1937.