The present paper examines the main biographical traits of the Italian author, politician and Risorgimento activist David Levi (1816-1898). Early in life, Levi abandoned the traditional religious spheres of Judaism but always remained attached to his Jewish heritage, as emerges from his oeuvre. Levi’s relevance derives from his constant effort to amalgamate Italian and Jewish identities in a context of increasing secularity. An analysis of his figure and activities, therefore  enables  us  to  investigate  some  crucial  issues at  the  center of  current historiographical debate, such as the nineteenth-century Jewish transition from a traditional to a modern identity, the discussion around the concepts of “assimilation”and  “integration,” orientalist researches and the study of religions in nineteenth-century Italy, and the important role of Freemasonry and Saintsimonism in Levi’s; secularization modes. In fact, their concept of “Religion of Humanity” helped him to create a synthesis between Enlightenment’s aspirations to universalism and Risorgimento’s cosmopolitan nationalism.

issue 08 / November 2015 by Alessandro Grazi