Pasolini: Forms of Subjectivity

By Robert S. C. Gordon | Go to book overview

4
'Who is Me': The Impulse to Autobiography

The 1970 paperback selection of Pasolini Poesie is prefaced by a brief prose account of the author's life and work, addressed 'Al lettore nuovo'. It is for all intents and purposes an autobiography offered as a 'user's guide' to the poetry which follows, and so stresses the function of autobiography as an archaeological substratum to the poetic voice.1 An earlier version, probably begun in August 1966, is in the form of a poem, entitled 'Poeta delle ceneri', or 'Who is me', 2 which provides an ideal starting point for an examination of the eccentric patterns of autobiography at work throughout his poetry. Whereas traditional autobiography is dependent on forms of narrative fiction,3 'Poeta delle ceneri' re-moulds emblematic moments of the poet's past into a formally subjective account of time, which is at odds with the demands of traditional narrative. The expression and perception of experience informs the history of experience to create a hybrid where lyric overlays narrative. The poem's account of Pasolini's flight to Rome in 1950 acknowledges this indirectly, and justifies it by ironic recourse to psychopathology:

____________________
1
Pasolini regularly provided critical guides to his own works. See e.g. "'Poesia dialettale del novecento'" ( Passione e ideologia, 5-134 [128, 132-41); ' Pasolini recensisce Pasolini' ( Ilgiorno, 3 June 1971, then Il portico della morte, 281-5); "'Calderòn'" ( Tempo, 18 Nov. 1973, then Descrizioni di descrizioni, 212-16).
2
Nuovi Argomenti NS nn. 67-8, July-Dec. 1980, 3-29, with a note by E. Siciliano; now in B2, 2056-84. The poem came out of Pasolini's first stay in New York in July 1966-hence references to America, the English subtitle, and the couching of the poem in terms of an interview (cf. "'Una disperata vitalità'", Rosa, B1, 726-48)--and was only later adapted for the Garzanti anthology. But it is worth noting that as early as April 1966, Pasolini had in mind the idea of an anthology and thus perhaps also the 'user's guide' function for "'Poeta delle ceneri'" ( Lettere, ii. 612). Cf 'io non sto che facendo un poema / bio-bibliografico' (I am only writing a biobibliographic poem) (2065).
3
Most notably asserted by Frye, 1957, 307: 'Autobiography is another form which merges with the novel by a series of insensible gradations.' It is also implicit in Lejeune, 1975, 14, who characterizes autobiography as 'récit'.

-90-

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Pasolini: Forms of Subjectivity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Plates xi
  • Abbreviations and References xii
  • Introduction: The Work of Subjectivity 1
  • Part I - Pasolini's Public Work 9
  • 1 - The Contours of a Career 12
  • 2 - Projects in Journalism 23
  • 3 - Vocations 75
  • Part II - Poetry: A Movement of Forms 85
  • 4 - 'Who is Me': The Impulse to Autobiography 90
  • 5 - 'Pura Luce': a Vision of History 114
  • 6 - 'Un Folle Identificarsi': Figuring the Self 138
  • 7 - Mio Corpo Insepolto': The Body and the Father 161
  • 8 - Poetry into Cinema 184
  • Part III - Cinema: Tracking the Subject 187
  • 9 - Authority and Inscription 191
  • 10 - Style and Technique 205
  • II - Genesis and Intertextuality 219
  • 12 - Metaphor 228
  • 13 - Being and Film--Time 240
  • 14 - Spectatorship 251
  • Part IV - Unfinished Endings 265
  • 15 - Petrolio: Self and Form 267
  • Bibliography 293
  • Index 313
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