Literature and Resistance: Dimensions of Commitment in the Writings of Beppe Fenoglio and the Italian Neorealists.

Seed, Ian (2012) Literature and Resistance: Dimensions of Commitment in the Writings of Beppe Fenoglio and the Italian Neorealists. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

[thumbnail of 11003748.pdf]
PDF (11003748.pdf)
11003748.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs.

Download (8MB)


This thesis investigates the different layers of commitment in the writings of Beppe Fenoglio and the Italian neorealists. This involves a reassessment of the neorealist literature of the 1940s and early 1950s, which I argue is far more varied, exploratory and experimental than is generally given credit for. I contend that Fenoglio's writing has a much closer relationship to neorealism than many critics believe. However, it is also the case to say that no partisan author is as critical of the Resistance as Beppe Fenoglio was. What then is the nature of his commitment? Through an examination of Fenoglio's Resistance writings, together with an appraisal of the historical and cultural context in which they were created, I show that Fenoglio's work is driven by a profound moral realism which continually searches for new ways to confront the traumatic nature of civil war and its aftermath. The focus of this examination is on the following works: Appunti partigiani; the Resistance short stories contained in I ventitre giorni della citta di Alba; II partigiano Johnny (taken as a whole to include Primavera di bellezza and Ur partigiano Johnny); Una questione privata; and in conclusion one of Fenoglio's last short stories 'Ciao, Old Lion'. Drawing on existential models, I make the case that it is Fenoglio who uniquely out of the neorealist writers explores what it means to be individually 'authentic' in times of momentous historical happenings while contemporaneously subverting the possibility of 'authenticity', thus leading to a fiction which is 'true', and which is more genuinely 'authentic'. I show that there is no necessary contradiction between the 'existential' and 'historical' interpretations of Fenoglio's work, which have dominated the debate between critics for the last four decades. Indeed, I argue that the two critical approaches should be married in order to enrich our understanding of Fenoglio's complex vision of the Resistance and the significance of his achievement.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Lancaster University (United Kingdom), 2012.
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
02 May 2019 16:36
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 00:36