Pier Paolo Pasolini. His life
Pasolini in Friuli
"I was born in a family representative of Italian society: the product of a genuine cultural mixing and Italian unity. My father descended from an ancient noble family of Romagna. On the other hand my mother comes from a family of Friulian farmers who have become, step by step, lower middle-class people. The relatives of my mother's father were distillers. The mother of my mother was Piedmontese, but that didn't prevent her from having contacts with Sicily and the Rome region."(1)
The Pasolinis didn't stay in Bologna for long; they moved to Parma, Conegliano, Belluno, Sacile, Idria, Cremona, Bologna again, and other towns of North Italy.
"They have made a nomad of me. I passed from one camp to another. I never had a fixed abode".
1925, in Belluno, the second born-son, Guido, was born.
Pier Paolo's relationship with his mother remained friendly while the conflicts with his father increased.
"Every evening I dreaded dinner time, because I knew that he would have done one of his scenes... Then came my initial separation from my mother which created a childhood neurosis. That neurosis made me restless, a restlessness in which I perpetually questioned my own being (...). When my mother was going to bear, I began to suffer from burning eyes. My father immobilized me on the table of the kitchen, opened my eyes with his fingers and poured in collyrium. After that symbolic event I was no longer able to love my father." (2)
Referring to his mother:
"She told me stories, fables, she read them to me. My mother was like Socrates to me. She had and has a terribly idealistic and idealized vision of the world. She really believes in heroism, in charity, in piety, in generosity. I have adopted all that almost in a pathologic way." (3)
He enjoyed a close relationship with his brother Guido. Guido had a kind of veneration for his older brother, who was good in his studies and in games with the other boys. That admiration continued to the end.
During the boys' early school years the family moved often but these moves failed to impede Pier Paolo's progress. He entered elementary school a year early. In 1928 there was the poetical exordium: Pier Paolo filled a little notebook with a series of pictures. That little note-book was followed by others. It would ultimately be lost during the war.
He passed from elementary school to the grammar school of Conegliano.
In those years he wrote a passage known as Teta veleta, that Pasolini later explained:
"It was in Belluno, I was
a little more than 3 years old. As the boys played in the public gardens
in front of my house what struck me most of all was their legs, particularly
the internal convex part of the knee, where the tendons stretch out while
running. I saw in those quick tendons a symbol of life that I hadn't yet
attained. That image of the running boy for me represented the grown-up
being. Now I know that it was a distinctly sensual sentiment.
Pasolini indeed stated:
"My infancy ended when I was 13. For all of us 13 is infancy's old age so it's a time of great wisdom. It was a happy period of my life. I had been the cleverest in school. As the Summer of '34 began, a period of my life had finished. I had ended one experience and I was ready to start another. The days leading up to the Summer of '34 were some of the nicest and most glorious of my life". (5)
Pier Paolo finished high school when he was 17 and matriculated in Literature at the University of Bologna. During his high school years he created, together with Luciano Serra, Franco Farolfi, Ermes Parmi (whose name was borrowed by Guido Pasolini during his partisan activities in Osoppo), Fabio Mauri, a literary group of the GIL of Bologna. During this period Pasolini wrote poems in Italian and Friulian that were gathered in a first volume, Poesie a Casarsa. Pasolini contributed to a magazine, Stroligut and together with other literary male friends he created the Academiuta di lenga furlana ["little Academy of Friulian language", t.n.]. Dialect represented a sort of opposition to fascist power:
"Fascism didn't tolerate dialects, signs / of the irrational unity of this Country were I was born / inadmissible and imprudent relatives in the heart of the Nazis." (6)
The use of dialect also represented an attempt to deprive the Church of its cultural hegemony over the underdeveloped masses. In fact the Left preferred to use the Italian language and excluding the sporadical cases of Jacobinism, the use of dialect has been a clerical prerogative. Pasolini attempted to bring to the Left a deepening of the culture of dialect.
The return to Casarsa during his university years represented the return to a happy place for Pasolini. He wrote to Silvana Ottieri in a letter of April '47:
"The fact that it was Holy Saturday didn't matter at all. If you had seen the colours of the horizon and of the countryside! When the train stopped to Sacile, in a very dense silence, like the last Tule, I listened again to the bells. There, behind the railway station of Sacile was, heading into the country, a road. I had either run along it during my infancy or I had dreamed of it..."
(1) P.P. Pasolini, Il
sogno del centauro, by Jean Duflot, Editori Riuniti, Rome 1983.