A rarity. At least at the time, one of the first media celebrities, a kind of royalty of image and talent. They all get discarded eventually as each new generation creates their gods. But Garibaldi is enduring; his manner of speaking truth to power to power and a later Rimbaud style redemption through sin captures the imagination as if as if a long lost soul of the Davidic line suddenly pierces public consciousness in a burst of energy, providing a free floating connection to a fantasy world, the kinds of fantasies that constitute the essence of celebrity, the sorts of spirits that guide us through the stages of modern life and permit us to tell stories about ourselves.
Of course, the personality of a celebrity, even as genuine a one as Garibaldi is inherently a contradiction. That is, genuine intimacy can never be attained, since the celebrity can offer only mass intimacy. The underlying theory of an intimacy with celebrity is precisely their retreating when we try to see them. This fleeing after flash presentation is why we are attracted to the hunt and search. The act of resistance creates an imperative to gaze and elevate voyeurism to an art. Who they really are is not even important.
At the time, the ruling elite, the circle around Queen Victoria for example faced attention competition from Great Men, the archetype that goes back to King David’s thirty-six mighty men; the freedom fighter, James Bond, The Wild Wild West type, the man of a different kind who faced danger, loved women and took up combat with tyranny with equal abandonment and relish. These figures, of which Garibaldi was the first, appealed to a new alternative public which had far less polite tendencies; a re-emergence of the bawdy and bad Georgian streak,with their desires for racy entertainment and restored appetite for courageous romantic heroes. A relationship between politics and publishing was democratized. These radicals pioneered a new style of role model which borrowed from popular culture and the older romantic conventions, all in the service of challenging traditional, politically correct notions of deference, authority and good taste….
According to an 8 February 2000 article in the Guardian by Rory Carroll: “… A frayed postcard in a Turin archive has revealed one of the most audacious gambles of the American civil war. Abraham Lincoln offered the command of the northern forces to Giuseppe Garibaldi, unifier of Italy and terror of the Pope. The US president, his forces hammered by the Confederate army, turned in desperation to Garibaldi, spawning one of the great what ifs of history. Rumours of Lincoln’s offer have circulated for a century and been denied by American scholars, but the document proved it was no myth, said Arrigo Petacco, a historian. He stumbled across the faded blue postcard, from Garibaldi to King Victor Emmanuel II telling the king of the offer, last week while rummaging in 90 boxes of material donated by Italy’s exiled royal family. Garibaldi caught the world’s imagination in 1860 after invading Sicily with 1,000 lightly armed redshirts….
…They defeated 12,000 Neapolitan troops, took the island and, determined to unify the Italian peninsula, invaded the mainland. They occupied Naples and unleashed a wave of support. According to Mr Petacco, the rebel, who in the 1850s had led an army in Uruguay and travelled through the US, was also a mason. The international masonic lodge successfully lobbied for him to be granted American citizenship. Garibaldi was ready to accept Lincoln’s 1862 offer but on one condition, said Mr Petacco: that the war’s objective be declared as the abolition of slavery. But at that stage Lincoln was unwilling to make such a statement lest he worsen an agricultural crisis. “Later they offered Garibaldi the command of one unit, rather than the whole army, but at that point it was too late and he had gone on to do other things,” Mr Petacco said. “In Italy we always knew, but there was always a lot of scepticism in America. Now we know for sure.” …”. There is a similar article in Il Giorno online….
Celebrity culture is essentially religion in disguise. Garibaldi was an atheist who had the Pope put a bounty on his head which only enhanced his outlaw, renegade image. He was Patton, McArthur, Lord Nelson and Sharon encircling the Egyptian army all in one. He possessed that intangible charisma of lost nobility that hangs in the dark recesses of our souls festering a craving we have of the the images of gods.
…It is interesting that Pope Pius IX, whose rule of the Papal States was attacked by Garibaldi, and which rule ended in 1870 when the last French troops left Rome and the Italian patriots took control, was during the USA Civil War very friendly with the Confederate President Jefferson Davis, even sending to Davis (after his defeat by Lincoln) a Crown of Thorns that is in The Confederate Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. The next year, 1871, France lost the Franco-Prussian war. During these times, plans were made for construction of the Sacre Coeur in Paris.Read More:http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/Turner.html
As told in countless cheap biographies, pseudo-histories and novels, Garibaldi’s life had all the ingredients to make him popular among the radical reading public. He was a general who triumphed against terrible odds, an honest leader who cared for the common man and a romantic figure who had experienced his full share of personal suffering, loneliness and hardship. He represented the (handsome) human face of revolution; he was, in the words of an English volunteer who observed him in 1860, both a man of the people and ‘immeasurably above them all’.
Garibaldi’s fame was a media creation. It was made possible by the expansion in print culture and the increase in mass literacy, and of a fit between the genres of romantic popular fiction and the spread of radical ideas. There was little that was spontaneous about Garibaldi’s appeal or its meaning, although its popular reception took everyone by surprise. Rather, it was the result of a deliberate political strategy planned by the nationalist leader Giuseppe Mazzini, and implemented by him and a group of talented publicists. Using both the printed word and the image they set out to promote Garibaldi as a real-life radical hero, and to identify him with the plotlines and themes of Italian romantic literature. Read More:http://www.historytoday.com/lucy-riall/garibaldi-first-celebrity
…Garibaldi did not simply look good. He made theatrical speeches, appealing to Italy’s famous past, to religion, martyrdom and betrayal, to military violence and hatred of the foreigner, and to family, sex and romantic love. His speeches became instant classics, reprinted in newspapers and recycled in slogans and declarations. He followed these up with a striking run of military victories, first in Rome in 1849, then in Lombardy in 1859 and finally, and most dramatically, in Sicily in 1860. Quite quickly, these achievements allowed him to establish a political space for himself away from Mazzini. He refashioned his own image through public appearances, memoirs and political writings. Garibaldi may have benefited from the popular mood of political romanticism, but he also encouraged it and sought to manage it to his own advantage.
Crucially, Garibaldi understood that in the extended public communities created by the new print media, nothing succeeded so well as the intimate touch. The style of political intimacy, which present-day commentators associate with ‘natural’ politicians like Bill Clinton, was pioneered by Garibaldi over a hundred years earlier. ( ibid )