There has always been an impressive and influential body of intellectual historians working in Italy. Part of the reason in the later twentieth century was that Marxism was seen to fail in Italy earlier than in states that managed to maintain a socialist regime over decades; this gave impetus to the scrutiny of Marxist ideas historically, with a view to explaining what went wrong and what the alternatives might be for the reform-minded, who were critical of Marx's master-narrative of societal evolution. Such a goal inspired the great Franco Venturi, whose Settecento riformatore appeared in five volumes between 1969 and 1990, and attained classic status, to be read as a commentary on the eighteenth century alongside John Pocock's The Machiavellian Moment (1975) or Barbarism and Religion volumes (1999–2015). Venturi, like...

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