Emilia Rensi

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Emilia Rensi
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Bellinzona, Ticino, Switzerland.
DiedApril 23, 1990(1990-04-23) (aged 88–89)
OccupationPhilosopher, free thinker, writer and teacher
  • Giuseppe Rensi (father)
  • Lauretta Perucchi (mother)
RelativesAlgisa (sister)

Emilia Rensi (1901 - 23 April 1990) was an Italian philosopher, free thinker, writer and teacher. She wrote for Anarchism in Italy and progressive magazines, for example Flavia Steno's La Chiosa,[1] Volontà (1960s),[2] Umanità Nova (1960s)[3] and Franco Leggio's Sicilia Libertaria (1980s).[4] She began publishing books on social, cultural and ethical subjects from the late 1960s onwards.

Early life

Emilia Rensi was born in Bellinzona, Canton of Ticino, Switzerland. Her father was the Italian philosopher Giuseppe Rensi (1871-1941),[5] and her mother was the writer and educationalist Lauretta Perucchi (1873-1966).[6] She had an elder sister, Algisa (1899-1994), who became a nun and abbess. She and her sister were born in Switzerland at the time when their father was living there in exile from Italy following political unrest (he also met his wife there). The family returned to Italy in 1908, living in various cities before settling in Genoa, where Giuseppe taught moral philosophy at the university. There was a strong socialist element in the family as a whole, growing partly out of their experiences during the, which coincided with Emilia's teenage years.

Work and politics

Emilia worked as a teacher at the Liceo Colombo high school in Genoa.[1][7] She also worked in the Library of the University of Genoa,[1] spending the majority of her adult life there (about sixty years) until shortly before her death. The socialism of father and daughter expressed itself both politically and academically and put them in a dangerous position during the 1920s and 1930s, as the popularity of the right-wing fascist regime under Benito Mussolini grew, leading up to the Second World War. Giuseppe and Lauretta were arrested and underwent brief imprisonment in 1930, as punishment for holding left-wing political meetings in their home.[6] There is also an anti-religious, atheistic attitude in the writings of Giuseppe and Emilia, for example in the belief that children's education at school should be entirely secular, and that moral values can be taught without the need for a religious component.[8] In a strongly Catholic Church|Roman Catholic society, this was another dangerous position to take, and their work has subsequently been neglected in their own country.

Giuseppe died in 1941, during the Second World War, and was buried in Genoa's Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno Cemetery; his widow Lauretta survived him by 25 years. In 1964 Emilia donated a large archive of her father's books, letters and other documents to the State University of Milan.[9][10] It is interesting to note that Emilia's own books did not begin appear until 1969, three years after her mother's death. From that time onwards her publications appeared regularly, until her death, with some appearing posthumously. Many of her books and articles were published by La Fiaccola [The Torch], founded by the left-wing political activist Franco Leggio[11] in 1960, based in cilyRagusa, Sicily.[12][13]


Chiose laiche [Secular Comments], Ragusa: La Fiaccola, 1969.[14]

Di contestazione in contestazione [From Dispute to Dispute], Ragusa, Sicily: La Fiaccola, 1971.[15]

Atei dell'alba [Atheists of the Dawn], Ragusa: La Fiaccola, 1973.[16]

Dalla parte degli indifesi [On the Side of the Defenceless], Ragusa: La Fiaccola, 1975.[17]

Il riscatto della persona umana {The Redemption of the Human Person], Catania: Edigraf, 1976.[18]

L'azzardo della riflessione [The Gamble of Reflection], Ragusa: La Fiaccola, 1976.[19]

Umanità e sofferenza in Jean Rostand: colloquio [Humanity and Suffering in Jean Rostand: Interview], Ragusa: La Fiaccola, 1981.[20]

Scuola e libero pensiero [School and Free Thinking], Ragusa: Ipazia, 1984.[21]

Un uomo, una vicenda: il problema morale nell' antifascismo e nella resistenza [One Man, One Story: The Moral Problem in Anti-fascism and Resistance], Ragusa, 1986.[22]

Testimonianze inattuali [Outdated Testimonials], Ragusa: La Fiaccola, 1987.[23]

Frammenti di vita vissuta: e Il "prezzo" della vita: considerazioni e riflessioni contro la guerra e il militarismo [Fragments of Life Lived: and the "Price" of Life: Considerations and Reflections against War and Militarism], Ragusa: Nuova Ipazia, 1991.[24]

Recensioni come testimonianza: la collaborazione a "Sicilia libertaria": settembre/ottobre 1984-settembre 1990; Dalla parte degli indifesi [Reviews as Testimony: the Collaboration with "Sicilia libertaria": September/October 1984-September 1990; On the Side of the Defenceless], Ragusa: Franco Leggio, 1991.[25]

Angoscia di vivere [Anguish of Living], Imola, Bologna: Editrice La Mandragora, 1998.[26]


Camillo Berneri and Emilia Rensi, Il cristianesimo e il lavoro: studio inedito 1932 [Christianity and Work: an unpublished study 1932], Genoa: Edizioni RL, 1965.[27]

Augusto Agabiti, Emilia Rensi and Julian Sorrell Huxley, Ipazia: la prima martire della libertà di pensiero [Hypatia: the First Martyr of Freedom of Thought], Ragusa: Ipazia, 1979.[28]

Emilia Rensi and Alberto D'Elia, Cristo-Colombo: e ... l'inizio della tratta degli schiavi [Christopher Columbus: and ... The Beginning of the Slave Trade], Ragusa: Nuova Ipazia, 1992.[29]

Giuseppe Rensi and Emilia Rensi, La religione nella scuola [Religion in School], Ragusa: Fiaccola, 2000.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "La Riviera Ligure ricorda Emilia Rensi - la Repubblica.it". Archivio - la Repubblica.it (in italiano). Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  2. "Volontà - anno XXII - n. 2 mar.-apr. 1969". www.bibliotecaginobianco.it. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  3. La dimensione anarchica (in italiano).
  4. "Sicilia libertaria", Wikipédia (in français), 2019-07-02, retrieved 2020-08-29
  5. Redazione (2015-03-06). "Giuseppe Rensi". Liber Liber (in italiano). Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Rensi-Perucchi Lauretta (1873-1966) – AARDT" (in italiano). Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  7. "Liceo Classico e Linguistico Colombo". www.liceocolombogenova.edu.it. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Rensi, Giuseppe; Rensi, Emilia (2000). La religione nella scuola (in Italian). Ragusa: Fiaccola. OCLC 77717474.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  9. Redazione (2015-03-06). "Giuseppe Rensi". Liber Liber (in italiano). Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  10. "Tesi finale con frontespizio - Università degli Studi di Sassari". webcache.googleusercontent.com. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  11. Heath, Nick (2007-03-06). "Obituary: Franco Leggio". the Guardian. Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  12. "edizioni la fiaccola". www.ecn.org. Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  13. Amministratore (2010-04-21). ""La Fiaccola", una casa editrice anarchica a Ragusa". Qui Mineo (in italiano). Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  14. Rensi, Emilia (1969). Chiose laiche (in Italian). Ragusa: La fiaccola. OCLC 758936803.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  15. Rensi, Emilia (1971). Di contestazione in contestazione (in Italian). Ragusa, Sicily: La fiaccola. ISBN 9783161545696. OCLC 9529897.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  16. Rensi, Emilia (1973). Atei dell'alba (in Italian). Ragusa: La fiaccola. OCLC 955904249.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  17. Rensi, Emilia (1975). Dalla parte degli indifesi (in Italian). Ragusa: La Fiaccola. OCLC 27018034.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  18. Rensi, Emilia (1976). Il riscatto della persona umana (in Italian). Catania: Edigraf. OCLC 3203391.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  19. Rensi, Emilia (1976). L'azzardo della riflessione (in Italian). Ragusa: La Fiaccola. OCLC 635839805.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  20. Rensi, Emilia (1981). Umanità e sofferenza in Jean Rostand: colloquio (in Undetermined). Ragusa: La Fiaccola. OCLC 729976364.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  21. Rensi, Emilia (1984). Scuola e libero pensiero (in Italian). Ragusa: Ipazia. OCLC 898519078.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  22. Rensi, Emilia (1986). Un uomo, una vicenda: il problema morale nell' antifascismo e nella resistenza (in Italian). Ragusa: publisher not identified. OCLC 82030485.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  23. "Results for 'emilia rensi inattuali' [WorldCat.org]". www.worldcat.org. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  24. Rensi, Emilia; Rensi, Emilia (1991). Frammenti di vita vissuta: e Il "prezzo" della vita : considerazioni e riflessioni contro la guerra e il militarismo (in Italian). Ragusa: Nuova Ipazia. OCLC 636067249.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  25. Rensi, Emilia (1991). Recensioni come testimonianza: la collaborazione a "Sicilia libertaria" : settembre/ottobre 1984 - settembre 1990 ; Dalla parte degli indifesi (in Italian). Ragusa: Franco Leggio. OCLC 82747618.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  26. Rensi, Emilia (1998). Angoscia di vivere (in Italian). Imola (Bologna): Editrice La Mandragora. ISBN 9788886123402. OCLC 635833311.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  27. Berneri, Camillo; Rensi, Emilia (1965). Il cristianesimo e il lavoro: studio inedito 1932 (in Italian). Genova: Edizioni RL. OCLC 635977125.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  28. Agabiti, Augusto; Rensi, Emilia; Huxley, Julian Sorrell (1979). Ipazia: la prima martire della libertà di pensiero (in Undetermined). Ragusa: Ipazia. OCLC 84189318.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  29. Rensi, Emilia; D'Elia, Alberto (1992). Cristo-Colombo: e... l'inizio della tratta degli schiavi (in Italian). Ragusa: Nuova Ipazia. OCLC 1124659175.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)

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