Pier Paolo Pasolini’s last novel, Petrolio, published posthumously in 1992, presents the reader with a disquieting resemblance with the ideas expressed by Palestinian-born theorist Edward Said, especially in his widely known 1978 work Orientalism. Deeply influenced by Gramsci’s concepts of subalternity and hegemony, both Said and Pasolini perceived political urgent questions like the Palestine-Israel conflict mainly as a legacy of the recent Western colonial enterprise, and in terms of a conflict between two opposed visions of the world: Western world versus Eastern World. Much based on the Italian scandalous political occurrences in the Sixties and Seventies, due to Italy’s political involvement with the American policies on oil in the Eastern world, Petrolio represents a complex journey through Italian culture, in a transnational, or better, multinational, perspective. Quoting largely from one of Petrolio’s short stories, it appears quite clear that Pasolini’s meditations on Islam, and on Western renewed forms of colonization, agree with Said’s version of ‘Orientalism’, that is, Western conceptions on Arabic countries and Islam, as an immediate product of that Eighteenth century culture which meant for Europe the complete conquest of the rest of the world. And the process of cultural and economic subalternization that hence derived has since contributed to draw a new and more extensive form of what once Gramsci called ‘Southern question’. Yet, we can also draw a direct correspondence between Pasolini’s novel and one of the cornerstones of 18th century travel literature, namely Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, published in 1768. In Petrolio, in fact, in a section called “Gli Argonauti”, the journey to the East is presented as a “series of ‘visions’ drawing on the Myth of the initiation journey”; within these ‘visions’, the so-called ‘cultured tales’ are presented, the first of which is entitled “Acquisto di uno schiavo”. It is a very illuminating tale on the links connecting Orientalism to the colonial and imperial spirit of modern Europe, the same ‘enlightened’ Europe which, instead, created shadow zones in the rest of the world in order to operate undisturbed despite the humanistic and cosmopolitan belief always proclaimed.

Postcolonial Journeys for Tristram: Pier Paolo Pasolini's 'Petrolio'

DE CHIARA, Marina
2011

Abstract

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s last novel, Petrolio, published posthumously in 1992, presents the reader with a disquieting resemblance with the ideas expressed by Palestinian-born theorist Edward Said, especially in his widely known 1978 work Orientalism. Deeply influenced by Gramsci’s concepts of subalternity and hegemony, both Said and Pasolini perceived political urgent questions like the Palestine-Israel conflict mainly as a legacy of the recent Western colonial enterprise, and in terms of a conflict between two opposed visions of the world: Western world versus Eastern World. Much based on the Italian scandalous political occurrences in the Sixties and Seventies, due to Italy’s political involvement with the American policies on oil in the Eastern world, Petrolio represents a complex journey through Italian culture, in a transnational, or better, multinational, perspective. Quoting largely from one of Petrolio’s short stories, it appears quite clear that Pasolini’s meditations on Islam, and on Western renewed forms of colonization, agree with Said’s version of ‘Orientalism’, that is, Western conceptions on Arabic countries and Islam, as an immediate product of that Eighteenth century culture which meant for Europe the complete conquest of the rest of the world. And the process of cultural and economic subalternization that hence derived has since contributed to draw a new and more extensive form of what once Gramsci called ‘Southern question’. Yet, we can also draw a direct correspondence between Pasolini’s novel and one of the cornerstones of 18th century travel literature, namely Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, published in 1768. In Petrolio, in fact, in a section called “Gli Argonauti”, the journey to the East is presented as a “series of ‘visions’ drawing on the Myth of the initiation journey”; within these ‘visions’, the so-called ‘cultured tales’ are presented, the first of which is entitled “Acquisto di uno schiavo”. It is a very illuminating tale on the links connecting Orientalism to the colonial and imperial spirit of modern Europe, the same ‘enlightened’ Europe which, instead, created shadow zones in the rest of the world in order to operate undisturbed despite the humanistic and cosmopolitan belief always proclaimed.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11574/36945
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