Pier Paolo Pasolini, Poems

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr 30, 1996 - Poetry - 231 pages
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"Sex, death, political passion, these are the simple objects to which I give my elegiac heart"

Winner of the first Renato Poggioli/William Weaver Award of PEN American Center

Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975), who is best known in this country as an inspired filmmaker, was also the most outspoken and original Italian writer of his generation, the author of distinguished and controversial novels and plays, political and literary criticism, and, above all, poetry. His poems are widely considered the most important contribution to Italian literature since Montale and, along with the work of Brecht and Neruda, represent the most powerful political poetry of the century. This dual-language book presents his major poems as well as an autobiographical essay, which together make for an outstanding introduction to Pasolini's exceptional gifts as a poet.

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About the author (1996)

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.

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