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February 8, 1933

Italian historian and journalist Professor Gaetano Salvemini, former professor of history at the University of Florence and visiting lecturer at Yale, lectured on “Florence at the Time of Dante.” Portraying the great Italian poet as having “the bitter pessimism of the broken man”—broken by 14th century mercantile Italy—Professor Salvemini observed that “Behind a profound pessimism, the light of great hope always shines,” concluding that “Heroic souls know how to hope, though they have lost all grounds for hope.” Salvemini’s monograph Florence in the Time of Dante was published by the Mediaeval Academy of America in 1936.

A student of the medieval commune and an outspoken anti-fascist, Salvemini fled in 1925 to France and England. Coming to America in 1930, he lectured at Harvard from 1930 until 1948. He spoke at Vassar again in Octobr 1935 and December 1942.

Six years earlier, on February 4, 1927, Dr. Salvemini and Vassar Professor of Italian Bruni Roselli, a one-time attaché of the Italian Embassy in Washington, argued heatedly the pros and cons of the Mussolini government in Italy before some 1,400 members of the Economic Club at the Astor Hotel in New York City. Although he declined during this visit to discuss the effects of Fascism on Italian life, culture and literature, these were his topics on his subsequent appearances at the college.

The Miscellany News, The New York Times

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