The relationship between art and politics has rarely been more deeply troubled than during the first half of our century. In the Vittoriale degli Italiani we have a peculiarly pure example of the insidious links between major trends of modern cizilization to the power-politics of Italian Fascism. Gabriele d'Annunzio's transformation of Nietzschean ideas into a degraded article of mass consumption and his adroit use of sensuous seduction give the Vittoriale the power to transmit even today some of the blandishments that allowed Fascism to flourish during the twenties and thirties. Whereas literary testimony of the era has lost its persuasive force, the more idiosyncratic visual vestiges of the period still exercise a dangerous but possibly also salutary fascination.

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