Presenting a portrait of the city that is at once poignant and intimate, as honest as if it were the author's journal, we find here artistic witness to the customs, dialect, squalor, and beauty of the ancient imperial capital that has succumbed to modern warfare, marginalization, and mass culture.
The sketches portray the impoverished masses that he calls "the sub-proletariat", those who live under Third World conditions and for whom simple pleasures, such as a blue sweater in a storefront window, are completely out of reach. In the chronicles, Pasolini faithfully renders life in Rome in the infinite stretches of public housing on the periphery of the city.
Pasolini's art develops throughout the works collected here, from his early lyricism to tragicomic outlines for screenplays, and finally to the maturation of his Neo-realism in eight chronicles on the shantytowns of Rome. The pieces in this collection were all published in Italian journals and newspapapers, and then later edited by Walter Siti in the original Italian edition. Marina Harss of The New Yorker has translated the work for its first publication in English by Other Press.
Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) was the internationally acclaimed writer, poet, critic, actor, director, and filmmaker. Among his most noted films are his epic masterpiece Accatone!, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Teorema, and Marquis de Sade. He was the author of several novels, most notably The Ragazzi (Ragazzi di vita), as well as books of short stories, essays, and collections of poetry.
Walter Siti is a professor of contemporary Italian Literature at the University of Aquila. He has published two volumes of literary criticism, two novels and numerous reviews of Italian poetry. He is the original editor of this work in Italian.
Marina Harss translations include For Solo Violin (Per Vionlino Solo), a war memoir by Aldo Zargani, and stories in The Forbidden Stories of Marta Veneranda, by Sonia Rivera-Vald. Her translations have also appeared in Bomb, Brooklyn Rail, and Autadafe. She is a researcher at The New Yorker, and lives in New York City.