Heretical Empiricism

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New Academia Publishing, 2005 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 320 pages
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This is an expanded edition of Pier Paolo Pasolini's long out-of-print Heretical Empiricism. It includes a new Introduction by Ben Lawton that discusses the relevance of the book on the 30th anniversary of the author's death. It also features the first approved translation of "Repu- diation of the 'Trilogy of Life'," one of Pasolini's most con- troversial final essays.While Pasolini is best known in the U.S. as a revolutionary film director, in Italy he was even better known as poet, novelist, playwright, political gadfly, and scholar of the semiotics of film. "New Academic Publishing should be commended for making this expanded version of Pier Paolo Pasolini's Hermetic Empiricism once again available to the English-speaking public, especially in the light of the fact that the important essay, "Repudiation of the Trilology of Life," has been added to its contents. Thirty years after Pasolini's violent death on 2 November 1975, the appearance of this excellent translation and edition of his major writings on Italian film, literature, and language is most welcome. No figure has emerged in Italy since the writer/director's death that has aroused such passionate opinions from all sides of the political and cultural spectrum. The translations by Ben Lawton and Louise Barnett render Pasolini's sometimes complex prose accurately with ample explanatory notes to guide the reader without a firm grasp of the original essays in Italian. This book represents an important work to have in every library devoted to cultural criticism, cinema, and literary theory." -- Peter Bondanella, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Italian, Indiana University "One of the greatest cultural figuresof postwar Europe, Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975), who is already widely known as a revolutionary filmmaker, was an equally important writer and poet. Pasolini's numerous works are published in some 50 volumes, which include poetry, novels, critical and theoretical essays, verse tragedies, screenplays, political journalism, and translations. With this successful and complete translation of Empirismo eretico (a collection of Pasolini's interventions on language, literature, and film written between 1964 and 1971), editors Barnett and Lawton have made a wide sample of Pasolini's most significant theoretical work available to the English-speaking reader. Essays on the screenplay, on the commercial and the art cinema, and on film semiotics make the collection of special interest to American film scholars and students. This volume is further enriched by an excellent introduction, carefully edited notes, a useful biographical glossary, and a thorough index. Given the contemporary interest in studying film, together with other cultural forms, within a broad social and historical context, Pasolini's "extravagantly interdisciplinary" writings beckon as a promising source of insight. A potentially seminal text that could contribute to the further evolution of interdisciplinary humanistic studies, Heretical Empiricism is highly recommended for university and college libraries." -- J. Welle, University of Notre Dame, CHOICE (1989)

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References to this book

Aesthetics of Film
Jacques Aumont
Limited preview - 1992
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About the author (2005)

Born in Bologna, Pasolini spent most of his childhood at his mother's birthplace in Friuli, where he learned the local dialect that he used in his first, last, and best poetry. He became a teacher in a local Communist party chapter, but was accused of blatant immorality in 1949, fired from his job, and expelled from the party. With his mother, he went to Rome, spending much time in the slums, mastering the Roman dialect. His novel Ragazzi di Vita (1955), based on his Roman street experience, established him as the leading neorealistic writer of the day. His second neorealistic novel, A Violent Life (1959), brought him greater success. Before long, however, he rejected neorealism and began to live for art's sake. Thereafter, except for what he called his "cat-like" nocturnal prowling for homosexual sex or love, Pasolini "did not lose a moment," as Cecelia Ross aptly said, "in his efforts to lay new directions for literature as well as for theater and television." He poured all his talents and energies into his major films, starting with The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), which sustains the mood of Bach's music, and running through The Hawks and the Sparrows (1966), Oedipus Rex (1967), Pigsty, Medea (1970), and a trilogy made up of The Decameron (1970), Canterbury Tales (1971), and Arabian Nights (1974). Throughout his works, Pasolini explored the culture and language of the outcasts living in the shabby Roman periphery. Shortly before he died, Pasolini published a revised and enlarged edition of his dialect poems, La nuova gioventu (The New Youth) (1975). 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.

Louise K. Barnett is a Professor of English at Rutgers University. Her most recent publications include: Leslie Marmon Silko: A Collection of Critical Essays, Ungentlemanly Acts: The Army Notorious Incest Trial, Touched by Fire: The Life and Death, and Mythic Afterlife of George Armstrong Custer.

Ben Lawton is Chair of Interdisciplinary Italian Studies and Chair of Film/Video Studies at Purdue University. His publications include: Literary and Sociopolitical Trends in Italian Cinema and numerous essays on Italian and Italian-American cinema, literature, and culture. He has also been editor of Film Studies Annual, Romance Languages Annual, Italian Cultural Studies, and Purdue Studies in Romance Languages.

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