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Radical Translations

Carlo Lauberg


  1. Costituzione del 1793 translation translator
  2. Dello Spirito translation translator
  3. Dello Spirito paratext author
  4. Giornale de' patrioti d'Italia journalist
  5. Lezioni ad uso delle Scuole Normali di Francia, raccolte per mezzo dei stenografi e rivedute dai professori translation translator
  6. Monitore Italiano journalist


Member of


Practiced pharmacy and chemistry.


Carlo Lauberg (Teano, 1762- Parigi, 1834) was a Neapolitan translator, journalist and an Army chemist.

Carlo Lauberg was born in 1762 in Teano, close to Naples. His father was an officer in the Walloon regiments and also the young Carlo was destined to the military career. However, he preferred to delve into scientific studies devoted to chemistry and physics and he abandoned the military career to follow the religious one. He embraced the sensism philosophy and translated the work of the abbot Pluquet Examen du fatalism (Examination of determinism). In 1791 he created a chemistry school associated to the mathematician Annibale Giordano with whom published several scientific manuals. In winter 1792, as an active member of the Freemasonry, Lauberg enthusiastically welcomed the arrival of the French fleet in Naples. With the help of Francesco Salfi the chemistry professor started to promote the evolution of masonic lodges into political clubs following the Marseille example of the Jacobin club.

In 1794 Lauberg had to flee from Naples due to his political activism which led him to be condemned as member of the 1794 conspiracy against the Bourbon. Once he arrived in France he joined the Armée d’Italie as a chemist after having changed his name in Laubert. He entered in Milan with the French troops and resided in Milan until the beginning of the Neapolitan Republic in 1799. Lauberg actively took part in the intellectual life of the Cisalpine Republic: he contributed to the newspaper Termometro politico, Giornale de patrioti d’Italia and Monitore Italiano. He became the director of the newspaper Il Redattore that strongly supported the French government in the Cisalpine Republic. Lauberg intervened with his friend Salfi in the debates taking place at the Constitutional Society where he attended meetings and delivered vibrant speeches to encourage a radical change in the Milanese society.

In his role of Army pharmacist, Lauberg became a close friend with General Joubert who sent him in Venice to lead the Education Society to diffuse republican ideas and strengthen the popular support to the French army. In this new role of cultural mediator, Lauberg was attentive to promote not only the circulation of Italian translations of French texts but he also supported the publication of a text in the Venitian dialect (Avvertimenti de un prete venezian ai so concittadini). The wide range of political engagements and the active journalist profile did not prevent Lauberg from publishing two important translations of French texts: Lezioni ad uso delle Scuole Normali di Francia, raccolte per mezzo dei stenografi e rivedute dai professori and Dello Spirito. The publisher of the two books was Raffaele Netti, another Neapolitan political refugee. The first work consisted of the translation of the transcription of the classes held in 1795 at the Ecole Normale in Paris. The second work was an extensive translation, with numerous footnotes edited by Lauberg, of Claude Adrien Helvétius’ De l’esprit. Both texts reflected one of the main concern that Lauberg had: a republican education for the young generation who would later become the ruling class. As a former professor of chemistry, Lauberg was keenly aware of the importance of teaching the republican values to the new generations. For this reason, he dedicated his translation of Helvétius’ work to “the Italian youth” with the hope of contributing to the crucial effort to mould it with republican virtues.

As it appears this translation was not only a literary endeavour but it provided a unique tribune for Lauberg’s political convictions. In particular, Lauberg wrote numerous footnotes where he offered his own position whenever a passage in the original text called for a political observation concerning the Italian revolutionary context. One of the most frequent targets was the Christian religion: Lauberg was convinced that the circulation of texts forbidden, like Helvétius’ ones, would greatly contribute to the final defeat of the Christian dogmas. The anti-clerical vein of Lauberg was behind his open support to the diffusion of the Theophilanthropic creed which preached the end of the Church and the free adoration of a Supreme Being and the universal love of humanity.

In 1799 the creation of the Neapolitan republic called Lauberg to return to Naples where he contributed to the political and cultural life of the unfortunate republic. He was a member of the executive council and became President of the Provisional government. Lauberg also took an active part in the creation of the newspaper Il Monitore Napoletano which left in the hands of Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel. However, the appointment of General Macdonald who substituted general Championnet left Lauberg and the other Neapolitan patriots without support. Once again Lauberg left Naples and returned to Milan. The death of the two generals, Joubert and Championnet, marked the end of the political activity of the Italian intellectual. Nonetheless Lauberg kept his position in the French Army where he served in Holland, Spain and in the Russian campaign. In the last years of his life, Lauberg promoted his image as a man of science rather than a radical political activist.


Benedetto Croce. Vite di avventure di fede e di passione.Carlo Lauberg. (Bari, Laterza), 1936, p. 353-427.

Luigi Lotti, Rosario Villari, David Armando (ed.), Universalismo e nazionalità nell’esperienza del giacobinismo italiano (Roma, Laterza), 2003.

Cristina Passetti. Verso la rivoluzione: scienza e politica nel Regno di Napoli, 1784-1794, (Napoli, Vivarium) 2007.