diquadeimontiGian Paolo Borghetti > biography

biography

We're working on an extensive biography of Gian Paolo Borghetti, but for the moment you can read a short one on

Wikipedia: Gian Paolo Borghetti

...plus some small but significant episodes from the life of Borgetti which are not in the Wikipedia article:


The "May trees"

It is an old tradition to use a "May tree" (arbre de mai, related to the English tradition of the maypole) to celebrate various special events, including electoral victories. According to Wikipedia :
In Correze, but also in the Dordogne, the Lot, the Limousin and the Val d' Aosta, the custom of planting a tree in May in honour of local elected officials is very much alive. The men fetch a tree in the forest, and decorate it with flags, ribbons and a sign saying "Honneur à notre élu(e)" (In honour of our elected representative). The tree is then planted in front of the house of the successful candidate, who thanks his constituents with a generous feast.
It was also customary in Corsica, after an election victory, that the friends of the elected representatve brought him a "May tree" from each municipality, which they planted around his family home. This tradition must have been observed all the more in 1848 because the tradition of liberty trees, born of the French Revolution of 1789, was restored following that of 1848 .

Innovating with the past, Borghetti asked that these "May trees" be planted not around his house in Talasani but at the monastery of Pero, then already in a state of ruin after having been burned by French soldiers in 1800 following the 'Crocetta' revolt. This place would have been of great symbolic importance, as the 'Crocetta' revolt was the last episode, in this part of the island at least, of the Corsican wars of independence.

This episode was reported in the Petit Bastiais of April 2, 1958, which explains:
We owe these details to someone who, born in 1837 and therefore aged eleven at the time, was persuaded by his friends to make the journey from his village to the main town of the canton astride the "May tree" provided by his commune, where his family, relatives of Borghetti, had contributed all in their power to his electoral victory. In all the memories of an old man, he said, there was never an outburst of popular joy comparable to that which was offered to his young eyes on this occasion.[8]

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'A Lamartine'

Upon reading his Histoire des Girondins, a work published in 1847 and very much oriented towards Romanticism and Revolution, Borghetti became a great admirer of Alphonse de Lamartine. In addition to a Republican political philosophy, they shared the same poetic and romantic spirit. In 1948 he dedicated a canto lirico to him, which Lamartine appreciated enough to thank the author in the following words:

« Monsieur, jamais la langue italienne n’avait renfermé mon nom dans de si beaux vers, ni élevé sur des strophes si ailées l’humble renommée d’un Poète. Il me serait impossible de ne pas vous le dire malgré la multiplicité de mes occupations. Mon oreille reste toujours ouverte aux chants lointains de la bienveillance, et le coeur toujours ouvert aussi à l’amitié, la vôtre s’est rendue immortelle dans ma mémoire. » [6] Sir, never has the Italian language enfolded my name in such beautiful verses, nor elevated on suched winged stanzas the humble reputation of a poet. It would be impossible for me not to tell you this, despite the multiplicity of my occupations. My ear is always open to distant chants of benevolence, and my heart is always open to friendship. Yours has made itself immortal in my memory.

translation: Brian Burns

You can find the complete text of the poem A Lamartine (in Italian) here.

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Meeting with Garibaldi

Borghetti was always an enthusiastic supporter of Italian unification, and wrote the text of one of the many versions of the patriotic song Camicia rossa garibaldina. In his Ricordi, his unfinished and unpublished memoirs, he recounts how on December 21 1862 at ten o'clock in the morning, the steamer Sardegna, en route from Livorno to Porto Torres, found refuge from a storm in the port of Bastia. The "Hero of Two Worlds" Giuseppe Garibaldi was on board. In order not to offend the French authorities he did not want to disembark, but still wanted to greet the author of Camicia rossa garibaldina. Gian Paolo Borghetti relates how he was informed of this by Ferdinando Lombardi, officer of the "Rubattina", and went to meet Garibaldi on board the ship. He then reveals the interview which took place:

« Cosa c’è di nuovo in questa benedetta Isola? Cosa vi fanno i francesi? » Ecco le ironie della storia! Nizza mia patria diletta è ora francese e la Corsica, sorella italiana purissima, non guarda più a Roma ma bensì a Parigi. Credete voi, Borghetti, che l’Italia possa non rispondere alla voce del dovere e del sacrificio e non dare un aiuto fraterno a tutte le terre italiane oppresse dallo straniero? I francesi che furono e saranno sempre i nostri peggiori nemici ci hanno fatto pagare molto caro... la commedia di Villafranca! Ma non sarà sempre così e verrà il giorno in cui saremo costretti a scendere nuovamente in campo per restituire alla Corsica il suo volto italiano. Voi, Borghetti, la pensate come me! » [3] Quoi de neuf dans cette île bénie ? Que font les français ? Voilà les ironies de l’histoire ! Nice ma patrie bien-aimée est française à présent, et la Corse, sœur italienne très pure, ne regarde plus vers Rome mais plutôt vers Paris. Croyez-vous, Borghetti, que l’Italie puisse ne pas répondre à la voix du devoir et du sacrifice et ne pas apporter une aide fraternelle à toutes les terres italiennes opprimées par l’étranger ? Les français qui furent et seront toujours nos pires ennemis nous ont fait payer très cher… la comédie de Villafranca ! Mais ça ne sera pas toujours ainsi et le jour viendra où nous serons obligés de descendre à nouveau dans la rue pour rendre à la Corse son visage italien. Vous, Borghetti, vous pensez comme moi !

traduction: Chantal André
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Borghetti 's obituary in the Bastia-Journal

After his death, the Bastia-Journal dated November 16, 1897 paid tribute to him in these words:

« [...] Borghetti était un des esprits les plus distingués de notre époque. Peu d'hommes en Corse possédaient ses vastes connaissances, son érudition qui était immense. Il avait tout lu et il avait tout retenu. Histoire, littérature, philosophie, tout lui était familier, et il parlait de tout avec un charme exquis. C'était plaisir vraiment que de l’entendre, de l'écouter quand, faisant appel à ses souvenirs qui lui revenaient sans effort, il racontait les évènements auxquels il avait participé ou assisté. "[...] Borghetti was one of the most distinguished minds of our time. Few men in Corsica had his vast knowledge or his immense erudition. He read everything and he remembered everything. History, literature, philosophy, everything was familiar to him, and he spoke of everything with an exquisite charm. It was really a pleasure just to hear him, to listen when, effortlessly recalling his memories, he recounted the events he had witnessed or in which he had participated.

    Personne ne connaissait mieux que lui l’histoire politique de notre pays depuis 1830. Il avait vu de près tous les hommes qui avaient évolué sur la scène et il parlait d'eux et de leurs actes avec cette sûreté de jugement, qui était la caractéristique de son esprit, indulgent pour ceux qui n'avaient été que faibles ; sévère, impitoyable pour les traîtres et les laches. [...] nul n'a tenu une plus grande place que lui dans la presse de notre pays. Il a collaboré à tous les grands journeaux qui ont paru en Corse de 1848 à 1885. [...]     Nobody knew better than he the political history of our country since 1830. He had seen at close hand almost all the men who had played a role in it and spoke about them and their acts with the good judgment which was characteristic of his mind, forgiving those who had only been weak, but severe, merciless to the traitors and cowards . [ ... ] no one played a greater role than he in the press of our country. He worked on all the major newspapers that appeared in Corsica from 1848 to 1885. [ ... ]

    On peut dire que personne, en Corse, n’a contribué plus que Borghetti à vulgariser l'idée républicaine. Et cet homme, tout de dévouement, n’obtint pour toute récompense qu’une misérable place insuffisante pour assurer le pain de ses vieux jours.     Arguably no one, in Corsica, contributed more than Borghetti to popularise the republican ideal. And this truly devoted man received no other reward than a miserable position insufficient to ensure the bread of his old age.

    Et, chose inouie, épouvantable, on eut le triste courage de la lui enlever, il y a 3 ans à peine, au nom de la République, sans avoir pitié ni de son âge ni de ses enfants, qu’on réduisait ainsi à la plus grande misère. O politique, que des vilénies et que de crimes on commet en ton nom!...
[...] ».[12]
    And, terrible, unheard of thing, three years ago one had the sad courage to take it away from him, in the name of the Republic, without pity for his age or his children, who were thereby reduced to the greatest misery. O Politics, what villainies and crimes are committed in thy name!...
[ ...] "

translation: Brian Burns
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