Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Comparative Literature


Giancarlo Lombardi

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature


letteratura, anni '50, anni '60, romanzo


The aim of my study on the works of Luciano Bianciardi is to expand upon his complex and conflicted relationship with the modernity of the new mass communication society emerging in Italy during the 1950s and 1960s, focusing on his career and several important areas of his work in particular. Bianciardi’s confrontation with modernity is ambiguous and challenged because it originates from the result of a dialectic between his intense, innate and conflicted roots in his hometown area of Maremma, his traditions and values and his fatal attraction to the new society and new mass culture. This can be compared to the movement of a moth attracted to a flame, an oscillation between the country and the city, between tradition and innovation, and between the old values of a prewar and agricultural Italy and the new values of a post-industrial and consumerist civilization. He also oscillated between the political and civil commitment of secular scholars and engagé intellectuals and a retreat to the mere technical functions of cultural professionals and unskilled workers in publishing, providing his specialized and fragmented knowledge at the service of a technical-production system that transcends and subsumes it. This dialectic appears to be characterized by a feeling of failure and defeat that, in a certain sense, precedes and in some dimension generates and contains his intellectual activities and his work as a writer. When leaving Maremma for Milan, he was excited by the desire to respond to and repudiate the Ribolla tragedy, his life’s great spiritual and moral watershed. Later, when surrendering to the city’s moral and intellectual licentiousness, he made the painful realization that his vocation was that of a polished interpreter and critic of the dawning modernity, viewed through the privileged field of observation of the cultural sector. He experienced this as a betrayal of the values of provincial civilization in his spiritual, intellectual and moral standard, an escape and retraction from his home in Maremma, his family and his friends and companions. The privileged field of observation focusing on this dichotomy, which is the source of Bianciardi’s poetics and the origin of the value of his more engaging and intense works, full of critical and cultural depth, can be recognized in his passion for modernity’s quintessential industry, that of the cinema. It is also evident in the trilogy of anger, which represents not only the most successful and prolific part of his writing, but also an explicate confrontation and conflict with the contemporary world. The analytical force of Bianciardi’s inquiry into Italian society of that time does not cease to amaze and draws its particular style from this existential experience that was both painful and resigned, both combative and disillusioned.