Although there exist a number of studies on prison writing from various countries, Sentences is the first comprehensive examination of autobiographical prison literature from Italy. Klopp has assembled a gallery of fascinating portraits in this chronological survey of prison writings by more than three dozen Italian political figures and intellectuals - including Cellini, Casanova, Tasso, the Martyrs of Mantua, Enrichetta Caracciolo, Gramsci - all of whom were imprisoned for their political convictions. Drawing on prison writings from periods that include the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Risorgimento, the rise of socialism and women's rights, and the years of Fascism, Sentences makes a valuable contribution to social and political history.
Through clear and sensitive analysis of sample passages Klopp is able to draw insightful conclusions, pointing out the rich intertextual allusions among these diverse prison texts. This survey of writers from different centuries, who espoused very different political points of view, reveals common traits that unite these otherwise dissimilar individuals. A final chapter discussing letters composed by Aldo Moro while he was held hostage by the terrist Red Brigades in the 1970s is especially provocative because it places him within the tradition of writing by individuals imprisoned by the state.