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"Publishing the Resistance: Third-Worldist Writing in Cold War Italy"

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Neelam Srivastava


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Publishing houses and other cultural firms were key players in shaping the Italian cultural sphere after 1945. They also focused public attention on anti-colonial liberation struggles by translating works by Fanon, Cabral, Guevara, and other major Third-Worldists for Italian audiences. The editor Giulio Einaudi was particularly instrumental in helping to reconstruct Italian culture after the end of fascism, and was a highly committed and politicized publisher, with links to the Italian Communist Party and the more radical section of the Italian left; so much so that throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s (and beyond), the Einaudi book was perceived as “explicitly militant” (Lolli 71). Einaudi promoted a series of books on the Algerian war of liberation against colonial France. The editor Giangiacomo Feltrinelli also published numerous texts related to Third-Worldism and anti-colonial nationalism. In this paper, I explore how Italian “resistance literature” took shape in those years across anti-fascist and anti-colonial contexts, through a look at publications in the Einaudi and Feltrinelli catalogues. Einaudi editors such as Italo Calvino, Giovanni Pirelli, and Raniero Panzieri were instrumental in creating a literary canon, later called Letteratura della Resistenza, that took on a multi-generic form. Narratives of the Resistance, relying as they did on testimony and documentary, traversed the categories of “saggistica” (or what today we would call non-fiction) and “narrativa” (or fiction). By looking at classic anti-fascist texts such as Primo Levi’s If This is A Man and Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli alongside anti-colonial/Third-Worldist writing published by Einaudi in the first 30 years or so after the end of WWII, such as Pirelli’s books of testimonies about the Algerian war, we begin to outline the features of a “resistance aesthetics” of narratives by Italian intellectuals and artists who had fought in the Resistance and who now turned to anti-colonial writing as an ideal continuation of their cause. This “resistance aesthetics” which draws on literary and artistic currents of the Italian postwar, such as realism and neorealism, played a central role in re-imagining the Italian nation both in anti-fascist and in internationalist, anti-colonial terms, and also widens the concept of resistance beyond Italy to encompass a shared solidarity with anti-colonial struggle.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Srivastava N

Editor(s): Francesca Orsini, Neelam Srivastava, and Laetitia Zecchini

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: In Press

Book Title: The Form of Ideology and the Ideology of Form: Print Cultures Between Decolonization and the Cold War

Year: 2021

Acceptance date: 19/10/2020

Publisher: Open Book Publishers


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