Pasolini was born in Bologna, traditionally one of the most leftist of Italian cities. He was the son of a lieutenant of the Italian Army, Carlo Alberto, who had become famous for saving Benito Mussolini's life during Anteo Zamboni's assassination attempt, and subsequently married an elementary school teacher, Susanna Colussi, in 1921. Pasolini was born in 1922 and was named after his paternal uncle. His family moved to Conegliano in 1923 and, two years later, to Belluno, where another son, Guidalberto, was born. In 1926, Pasolini's father was arrested for gambling debts, and his mother took the children to her family's house in Casarsa della Delizia, in the Friuli region.
Pasolini began writing poems at the age of seven, inspired by the natural beauty of Casarsa. One of his early influences was the work of Arthur Rimbaud. In 1933 his father was transferred to Cremona, and later to Scandiano and Reggio Emilia. Pasolini found it difficult to adapt to all these moves, though in the meantime he enlarged his poetry and literature readings (Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Coleridge, Novalis) and left behind the religious fervour of his early years. In the Reggio Emilia high school, he met his first true friend, Luciano Serra. The two met again in Bologna, where Pasolini spent seven years while completing high school: here he cultivated new passions, including football. With other friends, including Ermes Parini, Franco Farolfi, Elio Meli, he formed a group dedicated to literary discussions.
Pier Paolo Pasolini considered Ninetto Davoli to be "the great love of his life," whom he later cast in his 1966 film Uccellacci e uccellini (literally Bad Birds and Little Birds but translated in English as The Hawks and the Sparrows), co-starred with celebrated comic Totò, Pasolini became the youth's mentor and friend. "Even though their sexual relations lasted only a few years, Ninetto continued to live with Pasolini and was his constant companion, as well as appearing in six more of his films."
In 1939 Pasolini graduated and entered the Literature College of the University of Bologna, discovering new themes such as philology and aesthetics of figurative arts. He also frequented the local cinema club. Pasolini always showed his friends a virile and strong exterior, totally hiding his interior travail. He took part in the Fascist government's culture and sports competitions. In 1941, together with Francesco Leonetti, Roberto Roversi and others, he attempted to publish a poetry magazine, but the attempt failed due to paper shortages. In his poems of this period, Pasolini started to include fragments in Friulian, which he had learned from his mother.
After the summer in Casarsa, in 1941 Pasolini published at his own expense a collection of poems in Friulian, Versi a Casarsa. The work was noted and appreciated by intellectuals and critics such as Gianfranco Contini, Alfonso Gatto and Antonio Russi. His pictures had also been well received. Pasolini was chief editor of the Il Setaccio ("The Sieve") magazine, but was fired after conflicts with the director, who was aligned with the Fascist regime. A trip to Germany helped him also to discover the "provincial" status of Italian culture in that era. These experiences led Pasolini to rethink his opinion about the cultural politics of Fascism and to switch gradually to a Communist position.
In 1942, the family took shelter in Casarsa, considered a more tranquil place to wait for the conclusion of the war, a decision common among Italian military families. Here, for the first time, Pasolini had to face the erotic disquiet he had suppressed during his adolescent years. He wrote: "A continuous perturbation without images or words beats at my temples and obscures me".
In the weeks before the 8 September armistice, Pasolini was drafted. He was captured and imprisoned by the Germans. He managed to escape disguised as a peasant, and found his way to Casarsa. Here he joined a group of other young fans of the Friulian language who wanted to give Casarsa Friulian a status equal to that of Udine, the official regional dialect. From May 1944 they issued a magazine entitled Stroligùt di cà da l'aga. In the meantime, Casarsa suffered Allied bombardments and forced enrollments by the Italian Social Republic, as well as partisan activity.
Pasolini tried to remain apart from these events. He and his mother taught students unable to reach the schools in Pordenone or Udine. He experienced his first homosexual love for one of his students. At the same time, a Slovenian schoolgirl, Pina Kalč, was falling in love with Pasolini. On 12 February 1945 his brother Guido was killed in an ambush. Six days later Pasolini and others founded the Friulian Language Academy (Academiuta di lenga furlana). In the same year Pasolini joined the Association for the Autonomy of Friuli. He graduated after completing a final thesis about Giovanni Pascoli's works.
In 1946 Pasolini published a small poetry collection, I Diarii ("The Diaries"), with the Academiuta. In October he travelled to Rome. The following May he began the so-called Quaderni Rossi, handwritten in old school exercise books with red covers. He completed a drama in Italian, Il Cappellano. His poetry collection, I Pianti ("The cries"), was also published by the Academiuta.
On 26 January 1947 Pasolini wrote a controversial declaration for the front page of the newspaper Libertà: "In our opinion, we think that currently only Communism is able to provide a new culture." The controversy was partly due to the fact he was still not a member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI).
He was also planning to extend the work of the Academiuta to other Romance language literatures and knew the exiled Catalan poet, Carles Cardó. After his adherence to the PCI, he took part in several demonstrations. In May 1949, Pasolini attended the Peace Congress in Paris. Observing the struggles of workers and peasants, and watching the clashes of protesters with Italian police, he began to create his first novel.
In October of the same year, Pasolini was charged with the corruption of minors and obscene acts in public places. As a result, he was expelled by the Udine section of the Communist Party and lost the teaching job he had obtained the previous year in Valvasone. Left in a difficult situation, in January 1950 Pasolini moved to Rome with his mother.
He later described this period of his life as very difficult. "I came to Rome from the Friulian countryside. Unemployed for many years; ignored by everybody; driven by the fear to be not as life needed to be". Instead of asking for help from other writers, Pasolini preferred to go his own way. He found a job as a worker in the Cinecittà studios and sold his books in the 'bancarelle' ("sidewalk shops") of Rome. Finally, through the help of the Abruzzese-language poet Vittorio Clemente, he found a job as a teacher in Ciampino, a suburb of the capital.
In these years Pasolini transferred his Friulian countryside inspiration to Rome's suburbs, the infamous borgate where poor proletarian immigrants lived in often horrendous sanitary and social conditions.
In 1954, Pasolini, who now worked for the literary section of Italian state radio, left his teaching job and moved to the Monteverde quarter, publishing La meglio gioventù, his first important collection of dialect poems. His first novel, Ragazzi di vita (English: Hustlers), was published in 1955. The work had great success but was poorly received by the PCI establishment and, most importantly, by the Italian government. It initiated a lawsuit against Pasolini and his editor, Garzanti. Though totally exonerated of any charge, Pasolini became a victim of insinuations, especially by the tabloid press.
In 1957, together with Sergio Citti, Pasolini collaborated on Federico Fellini's film Le notti di Cabiria, writing dialogue for the Roman dialect parts. In 1960 he made his debut as an actor in Il gobbo, and co-wrote Long Night in 1943.
His first film as director and screenwriter is Accattone of 1961, again set in Rome's marginal quarters. The movie aroused controversy and scandal. In 1963, the episode "La ricotta", included in the collective movie RoGoPaG, was censored and Pasolini was tried for offence to the Italian state.
During this period Pasolini frequently traveled abroad: in 1961, with Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia to India (where he went again seven years later); in 1962 to Sudan and Kenya; in 1963, to Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, Jordan, and Israel (where he shot the documentary, Sopralluoghi in Palestina). In 1970 he travelled again to Africa to shoot the documentary, Appunti per un'Orestiade africana.
In 1966 he was a member of the jury at the 16th Berlin International Film Festival.
In 1967, in Venice, he met and interviewed the American poet Ezra Pound. They discussed about Italian movement neoavanguardia, arts in general and Pasolini read some verses from the Italian version of Pound's Pisan Cantos.
The late 1960s and early 1970s were the era of the so-called "student movement". Pasolini, though acknowledging the students' ideological motivations, thought them "anthropologically middle-class" and therefore destined to fail in their attempts at revolutionary change. Regarding the Battle of Valle Giulia, which took place in Rome in March 1968, he said that he sympathized with the police, as they were "children of the poor", while the young militants were exponents of what he called "left-wing fascism". His film of that year, Teorema, was shown at the annual Venice Film Festival in a hot political climate. Pasolini had proclaimed that the Festival would be managed by the directors (see also Works section).
In 1970 Pasolini bought an old castle near Viterbo, several miles north of Rome, where he began to write his last novel, Petrolio, which was never finished. In 1972 he started to collaborate with the extreme-left association Lotta Continua, producing a documentary, 12 dicembre, concerning the Piazza Fontana bombing. The following year he began a collaboration for Italy's most renowned newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera.
At the beginning of 1975 Garzanti published a collection of critical essays, Scritti corsari ("Corsair Writings").
Pasolini was murdered by being run over several times with his own car, dying on 2 November 1975 on the beach at Ostia, near Rome. Pasolini was buried in Casarsa, in his beloved Friuli.
Giuseppe Pelosi, a seventeen-year-old hustler, was arrested and confessed to murdering Pasolini. Thirty years later, on 7 May 2005, he retracted his confession, which he said was made under the threat of violence to his family. He claimed that three people "with a southern accent" had committed the murder, insulting Pasolini as a "dirty communist".
Other evidence uncovered in 2005 pointed to Pasolini's having been murdered by an extortionist. Testimony by Pasolini's friend Sergio Citti indicated that some of the rolls of film from Salò had been stolen, and that Pasolini had been going to meet with the thieves after a visit to Stockholm, November 2, 1975. Despite the Roman police's reopening of the murder case following Pelosi's statement of May 2005, the judges charged with investigating it determined the new elements insufficient for them to continue the inquiry.
Burial: Cimitero di Casarsa, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, Plot: Buried close to his mother, to the left of the entrance.
Roman Poems (City Lights Pocket Poets Series) by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (Translator)
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: City Lights Publishers (January 1, 2001)
Amazon: Roman Poems (City Lights Pocket Poets Series)
The Italian film-maker Pier Paolo Pasolini was first and always a poet—the most important civil poet, according to Alberto Moravia, in Italy in the second half of this century. His poems were at once deeply personal and passionately engaged in the political turmoil of his country. In 1949, after his homosexuality led the Italian Communist Party to expel him on charges of "moral and political unworthiness," Pasolini fled to Rome. This selection of poems from his early impoverished days on the outskirts of Rome to his last (with a backward longing glance at his native Frill) is at the center of his poetic and filmic vision of modern Italian life as an Inferno.
Pier Paolo Pasolini was born in 1922 in Bologna. In addition to the films for which he is world famous, he wrote novels, poetry, and social and cultural criticism. He was murdered in 1975.
The Resurrection of the Body: Pier Paolo Pasolini from Saint Paul to Sade by Armando Maggi
Hardcover: 424 pages
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (April 15, 2009)
Amazon: The Resurrection of the Body: Pier Paolo Pasolini from Saint Paul to Sade
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.
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Cinema As Heresy by Naomi Greene
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr (February 1992)
Amazon: Pier Paolo Pasolini: Cinema As Heresy
The major Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini was also a poet, novelist, essayist and political commentator. Naomi Greene reveals the diverse talents that made him one of the most controversial European intellectuals of the postwar era, at the center of political and cultural debates. She presents Pasolini's films in a critical context, using them to trace the evolution of his ideas and the details of his troubled personal life from 1950, when he settled in Rome, to 1975, the year of his brutal murder.
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