Academic journal article Italica

The Mythopoietic Function of the Noir: Gianrico Carofiglio towards a New Mythology of Justice

Academic journal article Italica

The Mythopoietic Function of the Noir: Gianrico Carofiglio towards a New Mythology of Justice

Article excerpt

Eppure e vero che non si prosegue la lotta contro lo stato di cose presente se non si e ispirati da una qualche narrazione. Wu Ming (1)

The increasing success enjoyed in Italy by the noir genre--evidenced by a variety of indicators including volume of sales, permanence in the best--(and long--) sellers lists, creation of specialised series and/or publishing houses--has been accompanied over the past decade by a concomitant singular phenomenon: the emergence of a new category of writer that could be named 'the law professional turned noir practitioner'. Senior police officers (Giuttari, Matrone, Di Cara), judges (Cannevale, De Cataldo, Cacopardo, Mannuzzu, Carofiglio, Von Borries) and lawyers (Filasto), whilst fully engaged in the exercise of their principal activities as custodians and upholders of the law, have also become the newest breed of Italian noir authors. Not only are they very productive in terms of output, but are also immensely successful in terms of the response that their novels elicit: they reach high volumes of sales in a market which traditionally registers modest figures; (2) attract an ever-growing body of readership, not through complex marketing operations but almost exclusively through word of mouth; (3) and affect the culture market in its globality, generating interest also in the cinema and television industries. Their novels, often making use of the array of statutory genre conventions that typically include crime(s) and investigation(s), are however different from most, or perceived by readers as such, because of the position of authority from which their discourses are uttered. The "passionate and large public" that, according to Carlo Lucarelli, finds in some writers accurate interpreters of the social dynamics of contemporary Italy, (4) will trust in the knowledge and vision of authors who experience and navigate the dysfunctions of the system in their working life and trust them to shed light on--if not to make sense of--the inconsistencies of Italian society. This essay aims to discover whether the analysis of social conflicts and of the dark side of the human psyche--which is typically the focus of noir fiction--receives a different spin when conducted by a legal mind, and whether the works of these now established writers add a further dimension to the fertile and varied field of the genre in Italy. It also sets out to ascertain whether from the success of these novels one can evince evidence of--or potential for--a transformative action of literature upon the principles or operational patterns of the law. The focus in this essay has been placed on Gianrico Carofiglio--public prosecutor, senator of the Republic, and author--whose novels open up to readers the complex world of the Italian judicial system by centring on representations of the dynamics of criminal trials.

One of the preliminary questions that may be asked when addressing the body of work produced by 'non-canonical' authors, in this instance judges, lawyers and policemen, is what turns people who operate in a very specific, specialised and highly professionalized field to writing. What urges them to engage with the process of literary creation alongside that of 'law-upholding'. Gianrico Carofiglio has written six novels since 2002, selling overall in excess of 1 million copies and gaining for himself the title of inventor of the 'legal thriller all'italiana', the Italian answer to John Grisham. (5) Giancarlo De Cataldo, a judge at the Court of Assizes in Rome, has published eight novels since 1997, as well as contributing to collections of short stories and writing screenplays for television. Domenico Cacopardo, until 2007 a judge at the Consiglio di Stato in Rome and advisor to leading political figures in Italy, has published eight novels, from 1999 to date. And Michele Giuttari, besides being in charge of the police force in Florence, (6) where he led significant enquiries, including the investigation that uncovered the existence of additional high-power collusions behind the events of the so-called 'Monster of Florence', has published five successful novels between 1999 and 2007. …

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