Armenian Translation of The Prison Notebooks by Antonio Gramsci Released

In the framework of the Calouste Gulbenkian Translation Series, The Prison Notebooks (Quaderni del carcere ) by Antonio Gramsci has been published in Armenian translation.

Translation and footnotes – Anna Blurtsyan

Cover design – Edik Poghosyan

Publisher – ARI Press

Read below the biographies of the translator, the author, and a short information about the book. 

About the Book

The Prison Notebooks (Italian: Quaderni del carcere ) are a series of essays written by the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci was imprisoned by the Italian Fascist regime in 1926. The notebooks were written between 1929 and 1935, when Gramsci was released from prison to a medical center on grounds of ill-health. His friend, Piero Sraffa, had supplied the writing implements and notebooks. Gramsci died in April 1937.

He wrote more than 30 notebooks and 3,000 pages of history and analysis during his imprisonment. Although written unsystematically, the Prison Notebooks are considered a highly original contribution to 20th century political theory. Gramsci drew insights from varying sources – not only other Marxists but also thinkers such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Vilfredo Pareto, Georges Sorel and Benedetto Croce. His notebooks cover a wide range of topics, including Italian history and nationalism, the French Revolution, Fascism, Taylorism and Fordism, civil society, folklore, religion and high and popular culture.

The notebooks were smuggled out of the prison in the 1930s. The first edition was published in 1947 and won the Viareggio Prize a few months later. Gramsci’s posthumous award of the Viareggio Prize was followed by a memorial from the Constituent Assembly of Italy on April 28, 1947. The first translation into English was printed in the 1970s, by the Scottish poet and folklorist Hamish Henderson..

Antonio Gramsci 

Antonio Francesco Gramsci (22 January 1891 – 27 April 1937) was an Italian Marxist philosopher, journalist, linguist, writer, and politician. He wrote on philosophy, political theory, sociology, history, and linguistics. He was a founding member and one-time leader of the Italian Communist Party. A vocal critic of Benito Mussolini and fascism, he was imprisoned in 1926 where he remained until his death in 1937.


Gramsci is best known for his theory of cultural hegemony, which describes how the state and ruling capitalist class – the bourgeoisie – use cultural institutions to maintain power in capitalist societies. The bourgeoisie, in Gramsci’s view, develops a hegemonic culture using ideology, rather than violence, economic force, or coercion. Hegemonic culture propagates its own values and norms, so that they become the “common sense” values of all, and thus maintain the status quo. Cultural hegemony is therefore used to maintain consent to the capitalist order, rather than the use of force to maintain order. This cultural hegemony is produced and reproduced by the dominant class through the institutions that form the superstructure.

Gramsci also attempted to break from the economic determinism of traditional Marxist thought, and so is sometimes described as a neo-Marxist. He held a humanistic understanding of Marxism, seeing it as a “philosophy of praxis” and an “absolute historicism” that transcends traditional materialism and traditional idealism.

Anna Blurtsyan

Anna Blurtsyan was born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia. Following a BA and MA in Psychology (Yerevan State University) she has turned her focus on the field of Classical Studies and researched the psychological aspects of classical Roman poetry and tragedy, earning an MA and a PhD at the University of Exeter (UK). She has taught a broad range of courses on Classical Studies and Italian Culture in England, Morocco, Italy and Armenia (American University of Armenia). She speaks Armenian, Italian, English, Russian and French. She lives in Rome, Italy.