The tip of the iceberg: Beppe Fenoglio and the short story

Date of Completion

January 1996


Literature, Modern|Literature, Romance




This dissertation is meant to fill a gap in the critical studies on one of the most intriguing Italian writers of the Twentieth century. Thirty-three years after his premature death, years marked by the periodical appearance of unpublished works and attempts at settling them in an opera omnia, the stature of Beppe Fenoglio as a short story writer is yet to be recognized. Furthermore. a five-tome critical edition of his works published in 1978 and a comprehensive "Pleiade" volume in 1992 have left the corpus of his short stories incomplete and uncollected.^ The concept of the short story within both the Italian literary tradition and that of the twentieth century in general is here formulated focusing on Fenoglio's important contribution to this genre. A missing coordinate in the writer's literary formation is established by identifying a specific source never noticed before, which underscores Fenoglio's interest in the short story as a literary genre. Two stories ignored by the editors of the critical edition--one of them published by Fenoglio himself in a miscellany of texts dedicated to the Italian partisan war, and the other one published five years after his death on a local magazine--are here discussed for the first time. Ultimately, the corpus of Fenoglio's short stories is drawn together, restoring the order of his own original collections, and thus correcting the publisher's questionable reorganization. This has been achieved mostly through the consultation of over fifty unpublished letters between Fenoglio and Italo Calvino written from 1950 to 1962. ^