Those who have heard of Pier Paolo Pasolini in the English-speaking world are most likely to know of him as a director of controversial films. However, Pasolini, who was born in Bologna in 1922 and murdered on the outskirts of Rome in 1975, started his creative life as a writer of poetry and prose. His work often reflected a struggle to reconcile his contradictions: he was gay and yet he proclaimed his faithfulness to Catholic values, and for much of his life he also adhered to Marxism. An enduring leitmotif of Pasolini’s art is his lament for the destruction of the traditional values enshrined in the proletarian and peasant Italy of his childhood by the tide of post-war capitalism and the con sumerism brought in its wake, which he considered an ‘anthropological genocide’. Pasolini’s volume of collected poetry Le ceneri di Gramsci (Gramsci’s Ashes) was published in 1957.
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