Pier Paolo Pasolini

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Pasolini, Pier Paolo

(pyĕr pä`ōlō päsōlē`nē), 1922–75, Italian writer and film director. A former Roman Catholic and a Marxist, Pasolini brought to his work a combination of religious and social consciousness. His early works, including the novel A Violent Life (1957; tr. 1985) and the first film he directed, Accatone (1961), deal with the grim effects of poverty and squalor. His other films include Mamma Roma (1962), The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), Oedipus Rex (1967), and Teorema (1968). His later films, imagistic and erotic adaptations of classical literature in which the sacred and the profane mingle, include The Decameron (1970), The Canterbury Tales (1972), and Arabian Nights (1974). His final work, Salò (1977), based on a Marquis de SadeSade, Donatien Alphonse François, comte de
, 1740–1814, French writer and libertine. He is known as the marquis de Sade —the title he held before becoming count on his father's death (1767).
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 novel, 120 Days of Sodom, is set in Fascist Italy, filled with depictions of sexual cruelty, and generated immense controversy. Shortly after the completion of Salò, Pasolini was murdered under violent and mysterious circumstances by two street hustlers.


See biographies by P. Friedrich and E. Siciliano (both: 1982); N. Naldini, ed., The Letters of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Vol. I, 1940–1954 (1992); studies by B. Allen (1982), N. Greene (1990), P. Rumble and B. Testa, ed. (1994), S. Rohdie (1995), D. Ward (1995), R. S. C. Gordon (1996), P. Rumble (1996), Z. G. Baranski, ed. (1999), R. Chiesi et al. (2006), J. D. Rhodes (2007), C. Ryan-Scheutz (2007), and R. Chiesi and A. Mancini, ed. (2008).

Pasolini, Pier Paolo


Born Mar. 5, 1922, in Bologna; died Nov. 2, 1975, in Ostia. Italian writer, script writer, and film director.

The son of a military man, Pasolini graduated from the faculty of literature at the University of Bologna. He first became known as a poet. From the beginning, his poetry was concerned with public affairs. The verse cycle Gramscïs Remains (1957) reflected Pasolini’s discernment of a hope for a better future in the life of the workers in the outskirts of Rome. The collection Poetry in the Form of a Rose (1964) revealed the poet’s sense of moral responsibility for man’s fate.

Pasolini’s early prose works were novels based on the life of Rome’s lumpenproletariat, the declassed elements of bourgeois society. These novels, Valiant Fellows (1955) and A Hard Life (1959), are imbued with violent social protest but at the same time are naturalistic and overburdened with slang.

Pasolini belonged to the progressive movement in Italian cultural life. His work of the late 1960’s, however, developed contradictions. The novel The Theorem (1968) combines the author’s distaste for bourgeois consumer society with its ideology of accommodation and his sense of disillusionment and hopelessness. Pasolini also wrote literary criticism and works on linguistics and style. His Heretical Empiricism (1972), a collection of articles on public affairs, juxtaposes Marxist tenets with leftist and extremist views.

In the mid-1950’s, Pasolini became a script writer, and in the 1960’s a film director. He directed The Beggar (1961) and Mamma Roma (1962) and wrote the script The Ricotta for the film Rogopag (1963). His film characters are akin to those of his novels. The film The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) attempts to modernize the Gospels. Christ is presented as a rebel and an accuser of oppressors. The film parable The Hawks and the Sparrows (1966) was the clearest reflection of Pasolini’s deep contradictions as an artist and of his wish to abandon all ideologies. Later films included Oedipus Tyrannus (1967), The Theorem (1968), Medea and The Pigsty (both 1969), The Decameron (1971), and The Canterbury Tales (1972). While Pasolini strongly censured the brutality and inner void of bourgeois society, his films are clearly dominated by eroticism and crude naturalism.


In Russian translation:
Nishchii (Akkattone). In the collection Stsenarii ital’ianskogo kino. Moscow, 1967.
In the collection Ital’ianskaia lirika: XX vek. Moscow, 1968.
In the collection Ital’ianskaia novella XX veka. Moscow, 1969.


Iutkevich, S. “Parizh—Kann, 66.” Iskusstvo kino, 1966, no. 9.
Ferretti, G. C. Letteratura e ideologia. Rome, 1964.
Asor Rosa, A. Scrittori e popolo. Rome, 1965.
Cinema, 1971, no. 65. (Issue is devoted to Pasolini.)

G. D. BOGEMSKII and Z. M. POTAPOVA [19–215–1; updated]

References in periodicals archive ?
This was the centre of Gian Carlo Menotti's newly formed Spoleto festival, the literature and film of Pier Paulo Pasolini, and the neo-realist cinema of Luchino Visconti and Federico Fellini.