Melton prior Institut


Linton- Life in the Collections

Joseph Mazzini:

31) The Duties of Man.

London 1862

The first book edition of this bible of 19th-century communitarism.

The predominant part of Mazzini’s best-known publication consists of a series of articles, which he had written in the early forties for his journal L´Apostolato popolare. He had published it in London in Italian language to enhance the solidarity of his newly founded Association of Italian workmen. An English version of the initial four tracts appeared in 1851 in the first volume of Linton’s English Republic. Linton recommended their reading to all “who care to work for the Republic. Study well these lessons, and learn what is expected from you, in the life-task, that lies before you.”

Linton didn’t think much of the subsequent translation by Emily Venturi, who was a dedicated follower and early biographer of the Italian revolutionary. There were Swiss and English editions of The Duties of Man in the sixties, “since when over a hundred editions have appeared, including translations in over twenty languages, even one in Esperanto. Addressed to the working class in Italy, this booklet was at first suppressed by the Piedmontese government because of its authorship and because in simple language it aimed at reaching the masses with opinions that sometimes challenged conventional orthodoxy. (...) So strongly did Mazzini advocate duty, association and corporate feeling that he continued to be criticised as a collectivist who rejected the essentials of liberalism and overestimated the need for authority.” (Denis M. Smith)