of Gothenburg University has just successfully defended a PhD thesis on "Occultism and Traditionalism: Arturo Reghini
and the Antimodern Reaction in Early Twentieth-Century Italy." The thesis is available online here
Reghini (pictured) is the leading figure in the Italian Traditionalist movement to which Julius Evola
at one point belonged, and was in contact with René Guénon
during the 1920s, helping Guénon with L'ésotérisme de Dante
(The Esoterism of Dante, 1925). He is best known as the author of "Imperialismo Pagano
" (Heathen imperialism), published in 1914 and then republished in 1924, the inspiration for Julius Evola's famous work of the same title. Reghini, however, rejected Guénon's interest in the East and drew instead at the Roman Tradition.
As Giudice shows, the links between Italian Traditionalism and Guénonian Traditionalism go back to 1910, when Guénon was visited in Paris by Reghini's mentor Amedeo Rocco Armentano
(1886-1966) and by Giulio Guerrieri
(1885-1963), both of the Schola Italica
(Italic School), a neo-Pythagorean initiatory order to which Reghini also belonged.
After an introduction, the second chapter of the thesis gives the nineteenth-century background to Italian Traditionalism, including the close association between Italian nationalism
on the one hand and anti-Catholicism on the other hand during the Risorgimento. Chapters three and four cover Reghini's early years, including his encounter with Theosophy
and subsequent turn towards the Schola Italica, the Florentine avant-garde, and Freemasonry. Chapter five focuses on Reghini's most important article, "Imperialismo Pagano," a translation
of which is provided in an appendix. In this context, "imperialism" refers to a particular understanding of the natural future of the Italian nation: in a sense, imperialismo pagano
is really anti-Catholic Italian nationalism. Reghini's article celebrates Dante
as well as Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi. It draws on Virgil
, and ancient religion.
Chapters six and seven will be of most interest to readers interested more in Traditionalism in general than in purely Italian Traditionalism. Chapter six covers the early Italian reception of Guénon's work, and especially of his idea of an intellectual elite. It also considers the Guénon-Reghini correspondence
(1923-26), including Reghini's contribution to Guénon's L'Éstoerisme de Dante
. Chapter seven considers the journal Atanòr
, which published Guénon and Evola, and its successor, Ur
. It ends with the end of the dream of a Roman imperialism represented by the 1929 Concordat between Mussolini and the Catholic Church. Chapter seven covers the remainder of Reghini's life after this, and chapter eight is a conclusion.
Giudice's thesis represents an important piece in the jigsaw that is the history of Traditionalism, showing that the Italian Traditionalism that produced Evola was not just a local version of Guénonian Traditionalism, but also had its own very specific origins and characteristics