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The Consolations of WritingLiterary Strategies of Resistance from Boethius to Primo Levi$
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Rivkah Zim

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161808

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161808.001.0001

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Creative Dialogues with Textual Partners, Past and Present

Creative Dialogues with Textual Partners, Past and Present

(p.79) Chapter 2 Creative Dialogues with Textual Partners, Past and Present
The Consolations of Writing

Rivkah Zim

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the writings of Thomas More and Antonio Gramsci. It demonstrates some of the similarities in the political and intellectual methods that generated their prison writing and helped to create their posthumous reputations. These conceptual changes were partly owing to a shared heritage of classical learning that conditioned how their thought processes are reflected in their forms of expression. The mental habits of both polemicists were formed by their literary training in dialectic: they each made creative use of contrast rather than comparison or similitude. In prison these tendencies were exacerbated, as different forms of dialogue and dialectic enabled each writer to reassess the ideas for which he was being persecuted and to sustain his resolve and humanity in family relationships. More's and Gramsci's prison writings therefore engage with existential themes and the politics of authority, yet at the same time they reflect the warmth and importance of family relationships in the dialogic forms of personal correspondence. Their prison writings have been crucial to the political impact of their lives.

Keywords:   prison writing, prisoners, European intellectuals, Thomas More, Antonio Gramsci, existentialism, authority, politics, family relationships

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