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The Pike: Gabriele d'Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War

The Pike: Gabriele d'Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War [Kindle Edition]

Lucy Hughes-Hallett
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)

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Product Description


‘Hard to beat … a biographical tour de force … a rich, voluptuous treat … a triumph, the biography of the year’ Robert McCrum, Observer, ‘Books of the Year’

‘[The Pike] dramatically extends biography’s formal range to encompass a daunting theme’ TLS, ‘Books of the Year’

‘This is a magnificent portrait of a preposterous character … 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

‘A cracker of a biography, an extraordinary story of literary accomplishment, passionate war-mongering and sexual incorrigibility… In less skilled hands this could have been a disaster; in fact it works wonderfully well’ Spectator, ‘Books of the Year’

‘Beautiful, strange and original … an extraordinarily intimate portrait’ New Statesman

‘Hugely enjoyable … Hughes-Hallett has a great talent for encapsulating an era or an attitude …That almost 700 pages flew by bears testimony to how pleasurable and readable those pages were’ Sunday Times

‘A splendid subject for a biography … Hughes-Hallett 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

‘A riveting biography … It must have been so tempting to be judgmental, but Hughes-Hallett allows us to judge for ourselves’ Antonia Fraser, Daily Mail, ‘Books of the Year’

‘Not only an inspired telling of a life that becomes more repellent with each page, it illuminates early 20th-century Europe in brilliant, unexpected ways’ Observer

‘Electrifying … a fascinating portrait … Hughes-Hallett relates his journey from romantic idealist to Right-wing warmonger with flair and insight’ Daily Express

Product Description


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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2534 KB
  • Print Length: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (17 Jan 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008NZF90A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,705 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Lucy Hughes-Hallett's latest book is The Pike - Gabriele d'Annunzio: Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War, which has won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Costa Biography Award, the Duff Cooper Prize, and the Paddy Power Political Biography of the Year Award.
Lucy's previous books are Heroes: A History of Hero Worship and Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams, and Distortions (Fawcett Prize, Emily Toth Award). She has written on books, theatre and television for most of the leading British newspapers. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

She lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The subject of this biography Gabriele D'Annunzio is a truly strange character that almost none of us has ever heard of, but who had a profound influence on Italy before and after the first world war.

I think Francis Wheen nails it with his comment on the back that "This is a magnificent portrait of a preposterous character..."
D'Annunzio was so strange, riddled with odd character traits, he really was a person you just couldn't make up. I won't go on and on, if you read it you'll find out what I mean.
I have to mention that Lucy Hughes-Hallett writes with amazing fluidity and elegance. She seems very psychologically acute and it's really hard to see how anyone else could have done this better.

A couple of things I didn't like about the book:
it doesn't start from the beginning, the timeline chops and changes at the beginning so you get to hear about really extraordinary exploits when you have no measure of the man, and then it goes into linear time again and you have the young D'Annuzio who is brilliant at school and always seeking mentors and women etc...

It's just too long. At 644 pages, I was getting fed up to the back teeth of the perverse pathological nature and antics of the eccentric subject and I thought that it would have been an even better read at about 350 pages. I suppose she was really comprehensive and did not want to leave any telling details out.

In conclusion
An extremely interesting, really well written book about an unforgettable character, you will learn a great deal if you read it and you may not agree that it's too long, so all in all 4 stars instead of 5.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, outrageous and unforgettable 8 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I teach an AS-level History paper in totalitarian states, which includes Mussolini's Italy. So I'd heard of D'Annunzio and his seizure of Fiume. Amazingly, as a child I'd even visited Fiume (now Rijeka) in what was then Yugoslavia on a school cruise, which time it was a faded, shabby, and plaster-peeled shadow of its former self. But I knew very little about D'Annunzio's astonishing life and career. This book has the great virtues of being about a modern phenomenon and being written in an extremely readable way. I couldn't put it down. D'Annunzio was completely reckless in every way with himself and everyone else he came across. A shameless lothario, adventurer, an aviator who pioneered aerial bombing, a fantasist and visionary, he was horrifically misguided with his indulgent love of violence and nationalism that made him a proto-fascist. No wonder Mussolini admired him. The author paints her picture brilliantly through a narrative that is essentially a flashback from where she starts the book. Frankly, at well under a tenner the book is a bargain - if you have the slightest interest in history this will grip you with the opportunity to read about someone who created his own mythical image. Best historical biography I have read for years.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a good if long read 3 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating biography of a character largely unknown in the UK who exerted an unfortunate influence on his contemporaries and posterity. His larger than life persona is well covered in this absorbing if long biography.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weird guy - great book! 12 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was very interested to read a review of this book in the Daily Telegraph. I've been to d'Annunzio's house on Lake Como and seen what an extraordinary character he was, so I was keen to get this study of the man and the artist. It is well-written in an interesting, non-chronological way and the author's considerable scholarship is evident without being obtrusive.

My first 'serious' purchase for the Kindle and I find I forget that I am holding a piece of electronica, as the writing draws me in.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant biography of an appalling man 22 Nov 2013
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a biography of Gabriele D'Annunzio (1863 to 1938), whom Romain Rolland had likened to a pike, a predator of other people's ideas which he then powerfully reshaped, and the author constantly reminds us of those of D'Annunzio's contemporaries all over Europe who had views similar to his own. Contemporary ideas - literary, artistic, political - were grist to his mill, and D'Annunzio was extraordinarily many-sided: a famous poet and playwright, his texts rich, sometimes overheated, with imaginative similes and suffused with an eroticism often mingling pleasure and pain and occasionally sprinkled with revolting imagery, especially scatological about his enemies; a journalist; a charismatic public speaker; a connoisseur of music, painting and European literature; a compulsive and minute recorder of all his experiences, especially sensory ones, which will then feature in his novels (as will the love-letters he wrote to his various amours); an aesthete and a dandy. He spent extravagantly beyond his means, cramming his homes with precious objets d'art, textiles, masses of flowers, staying at the most expensive hotels, and leaving bill after bill unsettled. He kept a string of thoroughbred horses and many dogs, mostly greyhounds. On four occasion bailiffs stripped him of the bulk of his precious possessions.

He was a promiscuous womanizer, and women fell for him although he was small and in later years quite ugly, with a waxen complexion and bad teeth. From his schooldays onwards, he was a ruthless self-publicist, ready to invent parts of his biography. A lover of the past, he also anticipated Futurism in his enthusiasm for modern machines - cars, aeroplanes, torpedoes, machine guns - just as he blended an effete Decadence with macho Fascism.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wicked swine!
A proper pantomime villain. The tragic thing is all his theatrically violent escapades are real. He tainted everyone he came into contact with. Read more
Published 22 minutes ago by Mr. H. T. K. Sanders
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed biography
This is a biography of Gabriele d’Annunzio, an Italian poet and revolutionary who laid some of the foundations for Mussolini’s totalitarian takeover of Italy by declaring himself... Read more
Published 11 days ago by History Geek
5.0 out of 5 stars Consider drugs, sex and decoration
An exhausting journey, I need to rest. What a star, such brilliant vanity; a murderer and fiendish artist. To have sex with him must have been exquisite.
Published 1 month ago by SW BECKETT-DOYLE
3.0 out of 5 stars .... sorry, dozed off ....
Exceptionally well researched, very worthy and consequently dull to read, award-winner or not. How do you make a man as colourful as this so monochrome ?
Published 3 months ago by Mr. Richard A. Denham
4.0 out of 5 stars A present
A present
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. J. Whitty
4.0 out of 5 stars A very consuming read.
I usually read 2-3 books at a time, I simply couldn't with this one, no other book got a look in until I'd finished reading it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by geoff
4.0 out of 5 stars The fascinating story of a strangely influential little man.
This was a fascinating book, but not an easy read. It was well written, but I felt that it went on just a bit too long. Having said that I'm not sure where it could have been cut. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Elizabeth Frazer
4.0 out of 5 stars A complex story of a complex being. A real ...
A complex story of a complex being. A real potboiler; you never know what this odd ball will be up to next.
Published 4 months ago by M. WYNNE-ELLIS
3.0 out of 5 stars The subject is fascinating, but...
I am only half way through, while d'Annunzio is a fascinating character, the chapters aren't in chronological order, which may be fashionable but I find it slightly irritating. Read more
Published 4 months ago by MR FANTASTICO
4.0 out of 5 stars Very evocative of the period
I bought this Kindle book mistakenly thinking it was about a Croatian, as I was about to start a holiday there. I wouldn't otherwise have read this. Read more
Published 4 months ago by David Wright
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