The unpopular realism of Pier Paolo Pasolini (Il realismo impopolare di Pier Paolo Pasolini). \lbrack Italian text\rbrack

Date of Completion

January 1990


Language, Modern|Literature, Modern|Literature, Romance




In this study of Pier Paolo Pasolini I foreground his essays as a means of defining his world view in relation to his artistic production. I submit that the maturation of Pasolini's thought can be considered in three stages, corresponding to three different methods of interpreting history. Throughout the 1950's Pasolini attempted to explain literary and social phenomena in orthodox Marxist terms of class struggle. His inability to define his own social role and that of all progressive bourgeois intellectuals caused him to revise gradually his thoughts on class conflict. While it was imperative that the intellectual "betray" his own class, Pasolini believed it impossible to be "organic" to the workers, in the Gramsician sense of the term. Having realized this, he assigned the intellectual a position of preeminence within the framework of an historical dialectic. The organized workers' movement was to subject itself to the intellectual's hegemony. This tendency to diminish the importance of the working class led him, in the 1960's, to declare the end of all forms of the historical dialectic. He believed the working class had given its unconditional approval to consumer ideals and had allowed itself to be absorbed into the petty bourgeoisie. The French and Italian student uprisings of 1968, however, led Pasolini to re-evaluate his conviction regarding absence of social conflict. An historical dialectic was now considered inevitable, but the working class had no place in it. Rather, historical progression was seen as being catalyzed within the bourgeoisie by means of the students' "Oedipal" attempts to replace their fathers at the helm of society.^ Texts must be considered as expressions of the artist's world view. Pasolini's political involvement and the presence of topical events in his verse oblige us all the more to understand the interrelation of text, author and society. An exegesis of Pasolini's work must first consider the process of development and maturation of his thought as evidenced in his non-fiction while examining the dialectical relationship of his thought to contemporary social history. For this reason, Pasolini's essays have been utilized here as a means of defining his work view; his cinematic and literary production have then been reread in light of this. ^