Lanza del Vasto: Wikis


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Giuseppe Lanza del Vasto

Lanza del Vasto, (Giuseppe Giovanni Luigi Enrico Lanza di Trabia), (September 29, 1901 – January 5, 1981) was a philosopher, poet, artist, and nonviolent activist.

He was born in San Vito dei Normanni, Italy and died in Elche de la Sierra, Spain.

A western disciple of Mohandas K. Gandhi, he worked for inter-religious dialogue, spiritual renewal, ecological activism and nonviolence.


Youth in Italy

Meeting Gandhi

In December 1936, Lanza went to India, joining the movement for Indian independence led by Gandhi. He knew of Gandhi through a book by Romain Rolland. He spent six months with the Mahatma, then in June 1937, went to the source of the Ganges river in the Himalayas, a famous pilgrimage site. There he saw a vision who told him "Go back and found!"

He left then India and went back to Europe. In 1938, he went to Palestine, then in the midst of civil war, to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, "between two lines of tanks".

He come back to Paris at the time when the Second World War started. He wrote some poetry books and in 1943 he published the story of his trip to India, Return to the Source, which became a huge success.

Foundation of the Ark

He founded the Community of the Ark in 1948 which first met a lot of difficulties. In 1954, he went back to India to participate in nonviolent anti-feudal struggles with Vinoba Bhave.

In 1962 the Community of the Ark settled in Haut-Languedoc, in the south of France, at the Borie Noble, near Lodève, in a deserted village. The community, once numbering over a hundred members, now suffers from an ageing population (under thirty members) and a lack of interest in its work and lifestyle.

Nonviolent struggles

Protest against torture in the context of Algerian War, at the Concorde Square, Paris, 1957

In 1957, during the Algerian War, del Vasto started with other known people (General de Bollardière, François Mauriac, Robert Barrat, etc.) a movement of protest against torture. He fasted for 21 days. In 1958, he demonstrated against the nuclear power plant in Marcoule, France, which produced plutonium for nuclear weapons.

In 1963, he fasted for 40 days in Rome during the Second Vatican Council, asking the pope to stand against war - "Pour demander au pape de prendre position contre la guerre."

In 1965 he was at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, city of Santa Rosa, province of La Pampa, Argentina, talking about no-violence during weeks with the students.

Left to right, Jean-Marie Muller, Lanza del Vasto, Jacques de la Bollardière on the Larzac during the struggle against the military camp extension.

In 1972, he supported the farmers of the Larzac plateau against the extension of a military camp while fasting for 15 days. In 1974 a community of the Ark settled in the Larzac in a farmhouse bought by the army.

In 1976, he participated to the demonstrations against the building of a surgenerator at Creys-Malville, Isère (France).


  • Ballades aux Dames du temps présent, Paris, 1923.
  • Conquiste du Vento, Florence, 1927.
  • Fantasia Notturna, théâtre, Florence, 1927.
  • Judas, récit biblique, Grasset, 1938, Gallimard, 1992.
  • Le Chiffre des Choses, poésies, Robert Laffont, 1942.
  • Le Pélerinage aux Sources, Denoël, 1943, Gallimard, 1989, Le Rocher, 1993.
  • Dialogue de l'Amitié, avec Luc Dietrich (Laffont, 1942, 1993).
  • Choix, poésies, Le Seuil, 1944.
  • 'La Marche des Rois, théâtre, R. Laffont, 1944.
  • Principes et préceptes du retour à l'évidence, Denoël, 1945, Le Rocher, 1996 sous le titre Eloge de la vie simple.
  • La Baronne de Carins, bilingue, poème épique traduit du vieux sicilien, Le Seuil, 1946.
  • La Passion, théâtre, Grasset, 1951.
  • Commentaire de l'Evangile, Denoël, 1951, Le Rocher, 1994.
  • Histoire d'une amitié, dans L'Injuste Grandeur de Luc Dietrich, Denoël, 1951, Le Rocher, 1993.
  • Vinoba, ou le nouveau pélerinage, Denoël, 1954, Gallimard, 1982.
  • Préfaces aux huit ouvrages de la collection Pensée gandhienne, Denoël, 1985-1965.
  • Les Quatre Fléaux, philosophie, Denoël, 1959, Le Rocher, 1993.
  • Pacification en Algérie, ou mensonge et violence, édition clandestine, 1960, L'Harmattan, 1988.
  • Approches de la Vie Intérieure, Denoël, 1962, Le Rocher, 1992.
  • Noé, théâtre, Denoël, 1965.
  • La Montée des âmes vivantes, Denoël, 1968.
  • L'Homme libre et les ânes sauvages, Denoël, 1969 et 1987.
  • La Trinité spirituelle, philosophie, Denoël, 1971, Le Rocher, 1994.
  • Technique de la non-violence, Denoël, 1971, Gallimard, 1988.
  • L'Arche avait pour voilure une vigne, Denoël, 1978, 1982.
  • Les etymologies imaginaires: Verite, vie et vertu des mots, Denoël, 1985. (ISBN 2207230090)
  • David Berger, théâtre, Lion de Judas, 1988.
  • Pour éviter la fin du monde, Le Rocher, 1991.
  • Le Viatique, 2 tomes, Le Rocher, 1991.
  • Les Quatre Pilliers de la paix, Le Rocher, 1992.
  • Le Grand Retour, Le Rocher, 1993. (ISBN 2268015343)
  • Pages d'enseignement, Le Rocher, 1993. (ISBN 2268016072)

Books in English

  • Return to the Source, Schocken, New York, 1972. Includes an account of Shantidas’s stay with Gandhi. (ISBN 0805234411)
  • Make Straight the Way of the Lord: An Anthology of the Philosophical Writings of Lanza del Vasto, Knopf, New York, 1974. (ISBN 0394493877)
  • Warriors of Peace: Writings on the Technique of Nonviolence, Knopf, New York, 1974. (ISBN 0394709330)

Essays on Lanza del Vasto

  • Qui est Lanza del Vasto, par Jacques Madaule,
  • Lanza del Vasto, par Arnaud de Mareuil (Seghers, 1965)
  • Dialogues avec Lanza del Vasto, par René Doumerc (Albin Michel)
  • Les Facettes de Cristal, entretiens avec Claude-Henri Roquet (Le Centurion)
  • Lanza del Vasto, sa vie, son œuvre, son message, par Arnaud de Mareuil (Dangles)

External links

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