Feltrinelli, Carlo 1962–
FELTRINELLI, Carlo 1962–
PERSONAL: Born 1962, in Italy; son of Giangiacomo (a publisher) and Inge (a publisher) Feltrinelli.
ADDRESSES: Home—Milan, Italy. Office—Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore, via Andegari 6, 20121 Milan, Italy.
CAREER: Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore, Milan, Italy, publisher.
AWARDS, HONORS: Literary Award, Salzburg Easter Festival, 2002, for Senior Service: A Story of Riches, Revolution, and Violent Death.
Feltrinelli: A Story of Riches, Revolution, and Violent Death, translation by Alastair McEwan, Granta Books (London, England), 2001, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Carlo Feltrinelli is head of the publishing house and bookstore chain founded in Milan, Italy, by his father, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli (1926–1972). The elder Feltrinelli was killed in an explosion as he attempted an act of sabotage against the Italian government. Carlo was ten years old when his father published, over the objections of the Soviet Union, Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak, who went on to win the Nobel Prize for literature. He gives an account of the life and death of his father in Feltrinelli: A Story of Riches, Revolution, and Violent Death.
Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, who was from a wealthy family, joined Italy's Communist Party in 1945 while still a teenager. While his mother distributed literature on behalf of the monarchy from her Rolls Royce, young Feltrinelli was distributing and hanging posters for the Communists. He saw publishing as a way to further his political beliefs, and founded his own publishing house in 1955. He also established the Feltrinelli Institute, which trains young leftist activists.
The biography provides a great deal of detail surrounding Feltrinelli's publishing of Doctor Zhivago despite strong Soviet opposition. Manchester Guardian reviewer Mario Fortunato felt that the transcripts of letters exchanged by Feltrinelli and Pasternak constitutes "perhaps the most successful part of the book, and certainly the most enthralling." Fortunato found that "the greatest tribute that can be paid to Feltrinelli's work as a publisher: his active, intelligent and creative role in supporting his author."
Because of the publication of Pasternak's novel, Feltrinelli was expelled from the Italian Communist Party. With the rise of the New Left in the late 1960s, however, he assumed a leadership position. He was fascinated by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro and tried to convince the latter to publish a book of memoirs. Following his trips to Cuba, Feltrinelli tried to organize a revolutionary force, hoping to transform a conservative region of Italy into what he called "the Cuba of the Mediterranean." He supported leftist groups seeking an armed revolution by buying them guns and ammunition. Feltrinelli was also involved with the violent Red Brigades, a group that in 1978 kidnapped and murdered Italy's former prime minister, Aldo Moro. In support of such terrorist activities, Feltrinelli planted the bomb that ended his life.
Andre Schiffrin noted in the Nation that "in the last years of his life, Giangiacomo was in hiding; he barely saw Carlo and rarely spoke to his colleagues. He moved in the shadow world of terrorists and plotters, becoming a character in a Conrad novel rather than the millionaire publisher that he had been." Mark Falcoff, writing in Commentary, found that the many letters written by Feltrinelli that are reproduced in the book "reveal a man at once neurotic, self-important, self-indulgent, and at times emotionally confused."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 1, 2002, Jay Freeman, review of Feltrinelli: A Story of Riches, Revolution, and Violent Death, p. 472.
Commentary, February, 2003, Mark Falcoff, review of Feltrinelli, p. 66.
Economist, November 3, 2001, review of Senior Service: A Story of Riches, Revolution, and Violent Death.
Guardian (Manchester, England), January 12, 2002, Mario Fortunato, review of Senior Service, p. 8.
Harper's, May, 2003, Barbara Probst Solomon, review of Feltrinelli, p. 84.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2002, review of Feltrinelli, p. 1364.
London Review of Books, February 7, 2002, John Foot, review of Senior Service, pp. 19-20.
Nation, December 2, 2002, Andre Schiffrin, review of Feltrinelli, p. 28.
New York Times, December 14, 2002, Alexander Stille, review of Feltrinelli, p. B9.
Publishers Weekly, September 16, 2002, review of Feltrinelli, p. 58.
Spectator, November 24, 2001, Joseph Farrell, review of Senior Service, p. 52.
Times Literary Supplement, December 7, 2001, Martin Clark, review of Senior Service, pp. 4-5.
SocialistWorld.net, http://www.socialistworld.net/ (June 6, 2002), Niall Mulholland, review of Senior Service.