Why should one read Gramsci?

Read Gramsci

Florian Becker / Mario Candeias / Janek Niggemann / Anne Steckner (eds.)

Read Gramsci. Entrances to the prison books

Hamburg: Argument 2013; 334 p .; brosch., 17, - €; ISBN 978-3-88619-356-1

In parts of the cultural and linguistic sciences, which has long been required reading, Antonio Gramsci's writings have been gaining increasing influence in political science and sociology in recent years. Not only, but in particular, Gramsci's interpretation of hegemony is increasingly used to facilitate the understanding of contemporary - political as well as economic - upheavals and developments. Gramsci's main work, the so-called prison notebooks, consists of a ten-volume collection of individual statements and notes that were created during the imprisonment of the Italian communist and only provide a fairly complete picture when viewed as a whole. Anyone who builds on Gramsci's analyzes therefore usually falls back either on secondary literature or on the "Selections from the Prison Notebooks" first published in English in 1971 - both approaches necessarily remain selective and encourage abbreviations and misunderstandings. Now you can expect the least interested to withdraw with ten volumes of prison notebooks for a research semester. That is why the editors would like to use this anthology to provide an introduction to Gramsci reading. In twelve thematic sections, an introduction to Gramsci's thinking is presented with a view to the respective key word, followed by a compilation of key passages from the original texts. The introductions are deliberately kept short in order to provide the reader with the prior knowledge necessary to understand the text passages, but to enable them to interpret the essential original reading. Of course, the compilation of the paragraphs presented here is inevitably selective, as the editors themselves emphasize. They believe it is essential to consult additional primary and secondary literature for more in-depth knowledge. It is all the more regrettable that it was decided not to add a short reference to further helpful text passages, in-depth secondary literature on the topic and possibly competing interpretations at the end of each thematic section. Regardless of this point of criticism, the book offers one of the best available entry points into Antonio Gramsci's work and is equally suitable for self-study as it is for working in reading groups.