Recognized in America chiefly for his films, Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–1975) in fact reinvented interdisciplinarity in postwar Europe. Pasolini self-confessedly approached the cinematic image through painting, and the numerous allusions to early modern frescoes and altarpieces in his films have been extensively documented. Far less understood, however, is Pasolini’s fraught relationship to the aesthetic experiments of his own age. In Against the Avant-Garde, Ara H. Merjian demonstrates how Pasolini’s campaign against neocapitalist culture fueled his hostility to the avant-garde. An atheist indebted to Catholic ritual; a revolutionary communist inimical to the creed of 1968; a homosexual hostile to the project of gay liberation: Pasolini refused the politics of identity in favor of a scandalously paradoxical practice, one vital to any understanding of his legacy. Against the Avant-Garde examines these paradoxes through case studies from the 1960s and 1970s, concluding with a reflection on Pasolini’s far-reaching influence on post-1970s art. Merjian not only reconsiders the multifaceted work of Italy’s most prominent postwar intellectual, but also the fraught politics of a European neo-avant-garde grappling with a new capitalist hegemony.
The Italian art cinema of the 1960s is known worldwide for its brilliance and vitality. Yet rarely has this cinema been considered in relation to the profound economic and cultural changes that transformed Italy during the sixties--described as the “economic miracle.” Angelo Restivo argues for a completely new understanding of that cinema as a negotiation between a national aesthetic tradition of realism and a nascent postmodern image culture. Restivo studies numerous films of the period, focusing mainly on the works of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Michelangelo Antonioni. He finds that these auteurs’ films reworked the neorealist aesthetic developed in the 1940s and 1950s, explored issues brought to the fore by the subsequent consumer boom, and presaged developments central to both critical theory and the visual arts in the 1980s and 1990s. Drawing on the theories of Lacan, Zizek, Benjamin, Foucault, Jameson, and Deleuze, he shines new light on such films as Pasolini’s Accattone and Teorema, and Antonioni’s Red Desert and Blow-Up. Restivo’s model for understanding the relationship of the 1960s Italian art film to its cultural contexts also has implications that extend to the developing national cinemas of countries such as Brazil and Taiwan. The Cinema of Economic Miracles will interest scholars and students in all areas of film studies, especially those studying theories of the image, national cinema theory, and Italian cinema, and to those engaged in poststructuralist theory, philosophy, and comparative literature.
Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–75) was one of the most important Italian intellectuals of the post–World War II era. An astonishing polymath—poet, novelist, literary critic, political polemicist, screenwriter, and film director—he exerted profound influence on Italian culture up to his untimely death at the age of fifty-three. This revised edition of what the New York Times Book Review has called “the standard Pasolini biography” introduces the artist to a new generation of readers.
Based on extensive interviews with those who knew Pasolini, both friends and enemies, admirers and detractors, Pasolini Requiem chronicles his growth from poet in the provinces to Italy’s leading “civil poet”; his flight to Rome in 1950; the scandalous success of his two novels and political writing; and his transition to film, where he started as a contributor to the golden age of Italian cinema and ended with the shocking Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. Pasolini’s tragic and still unsolved murder has remained a subject of contentious debate for four decades. The enduring fascination with who committed the crime—and why—reflects his vital stature in Italy’s political and social history.
Updated throughout and with a new afterword covering the efforts to reopen the investigation—and the legal maelstrom surrounding Pasolini’s demise—this edition of Pasolini Requiem is a riveting account of one of the twentieth century’s most controversial, ever-present iconoclasts.
Italian novelist, poet, and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini was brutally killed in Rome in 1975, a macabre end to a career that often explored humanity’s capacity for violence and cruelty. Along with the mystery of his murderer’s identity, Pasolini left behind a controversial but acclaimed oeuvre as well as a final quartet of beguiling projects that signaled a radical change in his aesthetics and view of reality.
The Resurrection of the Body is an original and compelling interpretation of these final works: the screenplay Saint Paul, the scenario for Porn-Theo-Colossal, the immense and unfinished novel Petrolio, and his notorious final film, Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom, a disturbing adaptation of the writings of the Marquis de Sade. Together these works, Armando Maggi contends, reveal Pasolini’s obsession with sodomy and its role within his apocalyptic view of Western society. One of the first studies to explore the ramifications of Pasolini’s homosexuality, The Resurrection of the Body also breaks new ground by putting his work into fruitful conversation with an array of other thinkers such as Freud, Strindberg, Swift, Henri Michaux, and Norman O. Brown.
Most people outside Italy know Pier Paolo Pasolini for his films, many of which began as literary works—Arabian Nights, The Gospel According to Matthew, The Decameron, and The Canterbury Tales among them. What most people are not aware of is that he was primarily a poet, publishing nineteen books of poems during his lifetime, as well as a visual artist, novelist, playwright, and journalist. Half a dozen of these books have been excerpted and published in English over the years, but even if one were to read all of those, the wide range of poetic styles and subjects that occupied Pasolini during his lifetime would still elude the English-language reader.
For the first time, Anglophones will now be able to discover the many facets of this singular poet. Avoiding the tactics of the slim, idiosyncratic, and aesthetically or politically motivated volumes currently available in English, Stephen Sartarelli has chosen poems from every period of Pasolini’s poetic oeuvre. In doing so, he gives English-language readers a more complete picture of the poet, whose verse ranged from short lyrics to longer poems and extended sequences, and whose themes ran not only to the moral, spiritual, and social spheres but also to the aesthetic and sexual, for which he is most known in the United States today. This volume shows how central poetry was to Pasolini, no matter what else he was doing in his creative life, and how poetry informed all of his work from the visual arts to his political essays to his films. Pier Paolo Pasolini was “a poet of the cinema,” as James Ivory says in the book’s foreword, who “left a trove of words on paper that can live on as the fast-deteriorating images he created on celluloid cannot.”
This generous selection of poems will be welcomed by poetry lovers and film buffs alike and will be an event in American letters.
John David Rhodes places the city of Rome at the center of this original and in-depth examination of the work of Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini—but it’s not the classical Rome you imagine. Stupendous, Miserable City situates Pasolini within the history of twentieth-century Roman urban development. The book focuses first on the Fascist period, when populations were moved out of the urban center and into public housing on the periphery of the city, called the borgate, and then turns to the progressive social housing experiments of the 1950s. These environments were the settings of most of Pasolini’s films of the early to mid-1960s.
Discussing films such as Accattone, Mamma Roma, and The Hawks and the Sparrows, Rhodes shows how Pasolini used the borgate to critique Roman urban planning and neorealism and to draw attention to the contemptuous treatment of Rome’s poor. To Pasolini, the borgate, rich in human incident, linguistic difference, and squalor, “were life”—and now his passion can be appreciated fully for the first time.
Carefully tracing Pasolini’s surprising engagement with this part of Rome and looking beyond his films to explore the interrelatedness of all of Pasolini’s artistic output in the 1950s and 1960s—including his poetry, fiction, and journalism—Rhodes opens up completely new ways of understanding Pasolini’s work and proves how connected Pasolini was to the political and social upheavals in Italy at the time.
John David Rhodes is lecturer in literature and visual culture at the University of Sussex.