The Pike: Gabriele D'Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War
The story of Gabriele D'Annunzio, poet, daredevil - and Fascist. In September 1919 Gabriele D'Annunzio, successful poet and occasional politician, declared himself Commandante of the city of Fiume in modern day Croatia. His intention - to establish a utopia based on his fascist and artistic ideals. It was the dramatic pinnacle to an outrageous career. Lucy Hughes-Hallett charts the controversial life of D'Annunzio, the debauched artist who became a national hero. His evolution from idealist Romantic to radical right-wing revolutionary is a political parable. Through his ideological journey, culminating in the failure of the Fiume endeavour, we witness the political turbulence of early 20th century Europe and the emergence of fascism. In 'The Pike', Hughes-Hallett addresses the cult of nationalism and the origins of political extremism - and at the centre of the book stands the charismatic D'Annunzio: a figure as deplorable as he is fascinating.
Winner Costa 2013, Winner Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2013
'Hugely enjoyable ... Hughes-Hallett has a great talent for encapsulating an era or an attitude ...The fact that almost 700 pages flew by bears testimony to how pleasurable and readable those pages were' Sunday Times 'This is a magnificent portrait of a preposterous character ... D'Annunzio was deplorable, brilliant, ludicrous, tragic but above all irresistible, as hundreds of women could testify. His biographer has done him full justice' Francis Wheen, Daily Mail 'Hughes-Hallett chooses not to judge, taking the position that disapproval is not an interesting response. Instead she teases apart the man from his self-made myth... She is never seduced by her subject, repeatedly reminding us of his fundamental lack of empathy, something elegantly encapsulated by the cover image itself: D'Annunzio mirrored, frozen in self-admiration' Daily Telegraph 'A splendid subject for a biography... Hughes-Hallet dances her way through this extraordinary life in a style that is playful, punchy and generally pleasing... In death, as in life, the amazing story of D'Annunzio is painted in primary colours, but with the darkest shadows' Observer 'The story is told by Hughes-Hallett with verve, a fine storyteller's touch and an acute eye for period paraphernalia and sensibility... The whole is enthralling curiosity' Literary Review
Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions which was published in 1990 to wide acclaim, and Heroes: Saviours, Traitors and Supermen, published in 2004, which garnered similar praise. Cleopatra won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award. Lucy Hughes-Hallett reviews for the Sunday Times. She lives in London.