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Episode 1

15 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 21 January 2013

Haydn Gwynne reads from Lucy Hughes-Hallett's biography of this remarkable Italian poet and political agitator whose words triggered riots. Once d'Annunzio's fame as a great wordsmith was established he used it unashamedly to sell his work, seduce women and promote his extreme political views.

In 1915, d'Annunzio's incendiary oratory helped drive Italy to war. In 1919 he led a troop of mutineers into the Croatian port of Fiume and established a delinquent city-state. Futurists, anarchists, communists and proto-fascists descended, as did literati and thrill-seekers, to experience d'Annunzio's utopian experiment.

One man's attempt to build a utopia becomes a story about the birth of fascism.

Abridged by Penny Leicester
Produced by Gemma Jenkins.

  • Music details

    Opening and closing music
    Track 13: Etude in D sharp minor, Op. 8, No.12
    Composer: Alexander Scriabin
    Performer: Garrick Ohlsson
    Label: Bridge Records


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