In the bookshop for Garzanti the collection of the writer’s correspondence from 1940 to 1975, edited by Antonella Giordano and Nico Naldini. With 300 unpublished works found in years of research
The last of the Letters di Pasolini curated by Antonella Giordano dates back to the middle of October 1975. The imminence of death at the Idroscalo of Ostia, on the night between 1 and 2 November, he loads these few lines written in haste to Graziella Chiarcossi (it is a note, rather than a real letter) of a completely involuntary and accidental solemnity.
It is easy to imagine that Pasolini, who used to come home at the first light of dawn, communicated to his young cousin, who lived in his house, the program of a normal day of work and meetings. Expects a rain of phone calls arriving in the early afternoon: he promised a meeting to various people, the son of a friend, the poet Ennio Cavalli, and asked Graziella to distribute the appointments in order to grant each one adequate time (three quarters of an hour from each other).
Towards evening, then, as actually happened, he would like to go to Chia, the town in the province of Viterbo where he had a medieval tower used as a country house, together with the photographer. Finally Pasolini recommends to his cousin the copy (you will find it on the desk) of a text written for an exhibition by Andy Warhol at the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, inaugurated on October 26th. As for the photographer, it is the late Dino Pedriali (who died last November 11), then 25 years old, for whom Pasolini posed first in Sabaudia, and later, in fact, in the Chia tower.
This series of portraits by Pedriali, and especially the part made in Chia, which includes nudes of extraordinary beauty, not just a harrowing terminal testimony (death was so close that Pasolini could never see the rollers developed). probable that, if he had lived long enough to complete the feat, these photos would have been sucked, together with other figurative materials, into the great cauldron of Petroleum, the immense world-work in the form of a fragment on which Pasolini worked hard starting at least in the spring of 1973.
The quick ticket to Graziella Chiarcossi certainly not, from a literary point of view, comparable to other gods three hundred unpublished works that enrich this new edition of Pasolini’s correspondence, which came out more than thirty years after the one edited for Einaudi by Nico Naldini, in two volumes published between 1986 and 1988.
If I started from the end, citing what can be considered the slightest shavings of existence, made dramatic and significant only by the date, because the imposing mass of letters written by Pasolini from 1940 to 1975 it represents a vivid and surprising access to life and work, not only from the point of view of the evolution of thought and intellectual ties, but also from that of lived time, with all its more or less significant details. If we think about it, Pasolini was the most tireless experimenter of literary genres of the Italian twentieth century, and everything he had learned about writing poured into the grandiose Petrolio experiment. But in this vast and polymorphous universe of literary genres, the concept and practice of the diary is hidden. In this Pasolini is the exact opposite of Andr Gide, who seems to have found the ultimate meaning of his work and of his being in the world precisely in the open form of the diary.
Perhaps Pasolini did not have the time and energy to become the chronicler of his day (as well as a kind of writing, the diary was also a ritual, and ultimately a form of life); probably he also saw a residue of anachronistic bourgeois intimism. But it is enough that writing becomes the space of a human relationship, with all the necessary extraversion rate that it entails, and here Pasolini appears to us precisely for the man he seems to have been: shy, capable of listening, generous with any interlocutor, from Maria Callas to the darkest of young poets that demanded his attention.
The great and much admired philologist Gianfranco Contini called him an expert in humility, and there is no book by Pasolini that more than this collection of letters confirms the truth of these very exact words. And the work of Antonella Giordano, who with such an abundance of material completes the one undertaken by Nico Naldini, already at the first impact stands before us as a real milestone, not surprisingly hosted in the prestigious flagship series of Garzanti, the most important publisher in all of Pasolini’s creative adventure.
In short, a book, with its fifteen hundred pages, which is certainly worth reading from top to bottom, but destined for countless consultations and research, starting with the copious index of names, an impressive photograph of the fabric of the relationships of this great artist. And if the chronological span is very long, a general characteristic of all these letters emerges from a first warm consideration. The epistolographer Pasolini , first of all, a great psychologist: it can be said that with each recipient he identifies not only the suitable arguments, but also the tone, the appropriate language for that single human being.
Fishing almost at random, I find among the unpublished pages priceless in this sense, like the letter scuffle with Elsa Morante who complained of late payment of collaboration in the Gospel according to Matthew (only Pasolini could have afforded to tease his touchy friend by reproaching her Buddhism!); or the letters to Contini in which the writer imitates and parodies the master’s mannerism. What emerges, in this enthralling correspondence, is ultimately the voice of Pasolini, which reaches us as if by magic intact as in the recorded interviews. And the more authentic and faithful to itself, this voice, the more capable, in the very moment in which it is articulated, of perfectly defining the physiognomy of the interlocutor: whether it is an important person, or the nuisance on duty to keep mind.
The volume: a corpus with over 300 unpublished works
The letters of Pier Paolo Pasolini, with a chronology of life and works, will be in the bookstore starting November 25, in the new edition edited by Antonella Giordano and Nico Naldini (series I libri della Spiga, Garzanti, pages 1,500, euro 60). The book collects for the first time the author’s correspondence in complete form, and integrates the corpus known so far with over 300 unpublished letters, found in years of study by the curators Giordano and Naldini (the latter disappeared in 2020) in the archives of foundations, libraries and cultural institutes, and with research on the recipients and their heirs. Among the unpublished, letters to Paolo Volponi, Elsa Morante, Gianfranco Contini, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Attilio Bertolucci, Giorgio Bassani, Vanni Scheiwiller. Introducing the texts, the new Chronology of Pasolini’s life and works that follows the layout conceived by Nico Naldini, expanded with the studies and findings of recent years.
November 24, 2021 (change November 24, 2021 | 11:58)