Monday, 23 August 2010

Myths and ideas about Europe: Books in Italian

Eurogoblin’s short essay and long blog post The Christian Origins of European Unity got a warm reception from a few prominent young Eurobloggers. This inspired me to think about some of the books and booklets, which have given me pleasure through the years.

To refresh my memory, and with pleasure more than scientific merit in mind, I decided to look at my bookshelf in order to present some books I have found interesting with regard to the myths, ideas and history of European integration.

Many may be out of print, but available in libraries; others may have been published in new editions. However, here is a first instalment of old friends, this time mainly in Italian, which have given me both pleasure and knowledge.

Gerlando Lentini wrote a fairly romantic booklet with almost the same theme as Eurogoblin, the Christian roots of the European Union: Alle radici cristiane dell’Unione Europea – Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer, Alcide De Gasperi (Città Nuova Editrice, 2004).



Also a slim volume, also in Italian, is Federico Chabod: Storia dell’idea d’Europa (originally 1961, but the volume I have Editori Laterza, 2001). Chabod’s lectures take us from the earliest myths about Europe to 18th century ideas. Internet Bookshop Italia seems to have an 8th edition from 2007.



The historian Heikki Mikkeli wrote Euroopan idea in Finnish (1994; 3rd edition, Suomen Historiallinen Seura, 1999). A reedited Italian version has been published: Europa – Storia di un’idea e di un’identità (il Mulino, 2002), translated from an English edition I do not possess: Europe as an Idea and an Identity (Palgrave, 1998). Mikkeli discusses Europe as an idea from early myths to the threshold of the establishment of the European Union. He traces European identity in relation to geographic and cultural borders.



Europa unita sogno dei saggi, by Maria Grazia Melchionni (Marsilio Editori, 2001) leads the reader from prehistoric times to the establishment of the Council of Europe and the first European Communities.



Sergio Romano gives a broad outline of the geography and culture of Europe, the history of the European states and of European integration until the plan for a Constitution in 2003, in: Europa – Storia di un’idea (Longanesi, 2004; a 2006 edition seems to be available).

These books invite us to think about our European cultural heritage and the ideas to overcome deep divisions created by humans.

Some people call the thinkers of European unity utopians.

What should the call the ones who destroyed or still want to disrupt those dreams?

Something to think about at the memorials dedicated to the known and unknown victims of internecine European wars.




Ralf Grahn



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