New Book

New from Brill’s Historical Materialism Book Series – The Rhythm of Thought in Gramsci: A Diachronic Interpretation of Prison Notebooks

23rd Apr 2017

The Rhythm of Thought in Gramsci: A Diachronic Interpretation of Prison Notebooks

Giuseppe Cospito, University of Pavia. Translated by Arianna Ponzini

Many scholars have recently shown great interest in a diachronic re-examination of Antonio Gramsci’s main theoretical-political categories in the Prison Notebooks. This method would uncover the origins and development of Gramsci’s concepts using the same method that Gramsci himself believed would allow us to grasp ‘the rhythm of thought’ in Marx. The present work embraces this perspective and puts it to work in two ways. Its first part analyzes the relation between structure and superstructure and the concepts of hegemony and the regulated society. Its second part extends the diachronic analysis to the conceptual pairings which represent alternatives to structure-superstructure, encompassing questions of political and cultural organisation as well as the relation between Gramsci and the major proponents of historical materialism (Marx, Engels, Lenin).

English translation of Il ritmo del pensiero: per una lettura diacronica dei «Quaderni del carcere» di Gramsci published by Bibliopolis, Naples (2011).

Biographical note

Giuseppe Cospito, Ph.D. (1999), University of Turin, is Assistant Professor of History of Philosophy at the University of Pavia. He has published monographs and a number of articles on Niccolò Machiavelli, Giambattista Vico, Carlo Cattaneo and Antonio Gramsci.


All those interested in a more detailed analysis of Gramsci’s thinking in light of Italian philological tradition, in particular university libraries and institutions, academics, PhD students and university graduates.

Table of contents

A Note on the Text
Preface: Questions of Method


1. Structure and Superstructures
1.1. Working hypothesis 
1.2. The ‘Bukharin’ phase (from the party school to Notebook 4, §§ 12 and 15: 1925–30) 
1.3. The ‘centrist’ thesis from the end of 1930 (Notebook 4, § 38)
1.4. The ‘crisis’ of 1931 (Notebook 7)
1.5. Moving beyond the architectural metaphor (Notebook 8: end of 1931 – beginning of 1932) 
1.6. The ‘inertia’ of the old formulations (Notebooks 10, 11 and 13: 1932–3)
1.7. ‘Unended Quest’ (Notebooks 10, 11, 14, 15 e 17: 1932-35)
1.8 Provisional conclusions

2. Hegemony
2.1. Introduction 
2.2. ‘Posing the issue’
2.3. Hegemony and civil society
2.4. Hegemony and the intellectuals
2.5. Hegemony and the party 
2.6. The sources of Gramsci’s concept of hegemony
2.7. A (re)definition of Gramsci’s concept of hegemony

3. Regulated Society
3.1. Philosophy-Politics-Economics 
3.2. ‘Importuning the texts’
3.3. The regulated society ‘from Utopia to science’
3.4. Towards a new Reformation?
3.5. Gramsci as critic of the ‘critical economy’
3.6. Toward ‘a new economic science’


4. The ‘Alternatives’ to Structure-Superstructure 
4.1. ‘Quantity and quality’
4.2. ‘Content and form’
4.3. ‘Objective and subjective’
4.4. ‘Historical bloc’

5. The Gradual Transformation in Gramsci’s Categories
5.1. Methodological premise
5.2. Organic centralism; Postilla 
5.3. Common sense and/or good sense
5.4. Civil society

6. Gramsci and the Marxist Tradition
6.1. ‘Marx, the author of concrete political and historical works’: Caesarism and Bonapartism
6.2. Engels and the Marxist vulgate
6.3. Conclusion: Gramsci, from Lenin to Marx