The novel opens on a demoralized postwar Italy in 1919 and chronicles the fascists’ improbable rise to power. It describes the midnight assassinations of socialist leaders and the kidnapping and murder of Giacomo Matteotti, the early fascists’ most vocal opponent, but also intimate episodes like Mussolini’s concern over his sick child. It culminates in Mussolini’s Jan. 3, 1925 speech in Parliament, which historians consider the inauguration of his authoritarian regime.
Scurati said he had the idea for this book about five years ago, while doing research for his novel, “The Best Time of Our Life,” about the anti-fascist Leone Ginzburg and watching famous video footage of Mussolini giving speeches from balconies. He said Italians had seen these clips “too many times, so many times we don’t really see them anymore.”
“I thought at a certain point: This person is still, in a certain sense, at the heart of the Italian conscience,” recalled Scurati, who teaches literature and creative writing at IULM University in Milan.
In Italy, the birthplace of fascism, Mussolini has never carried the same stigma as Hitler in Germany. The dictator still known as “Il Duce” enjoyed wide public support during his two-decade rule, despite his persecution of anti-fascists and Jews. Some in Italy today are willing to overlook those things for the perceived social stability of the fascist era.
In the collective memory, “Italy always came out as the lesser evil with respect to Nazi Germany,” Ben-Ghiat said. “Because of that, Italians were able to say, ‘Well, we weren’t so bad. We weren’t the architects of the Holocaust.’”
Today, Mussolini is less taboo than ever. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister and head of its leading political party, sometimes quotes the fascist dictator. Meanwhile, Italian neo-fascist groups, which experts say are attracting many young people, hold frequent marches in cities throughout Italy.
Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/08/books/antonio-scurati-mussolini-novel-m.html345