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The Resurrection of the Body

Pier Paolo Pasolini from Saint Paul to Sade

Italian novelist, poet, and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini was brutally killed in Rome in 1975, a macabre end to a career that often explored humanity’s capacity for violence and cruelty. Along with the mystery of his murderer’s identity, Pasolini left behind a controversial but acclaimed oeuvre as well as a final quartet of beguiling projects that signaled a radical change in his aesthetics and view of reality.
The Resurrection of the Body is an original and compelling interpretation of these final works: the screenplay Saint Paul, the scenario for Porn-Theo-Colossal, the immense and unfinished novel Petrolio, and his notorious final film, Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom, a disturbing adaptation of the writings of the Marquis de Sade. Together these works, Armando Maggi contends, reveal Pasolini’s obsession with sodomy and its role within his apocalyptic view of Western society. One of the first studies to explore the ramifications of Pasolini’s homosexuality, The Resurrection of the Body also breaks new ground by putting his work into fruitful conversation with an array of other thinkers such as Freud, Strindberg, Swift, Henri Michaux, and Norman O. Brown.

424 pages | 13 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2009

Film Studies

Gay and Lesbian Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: Romance Languages


“One of the great merits of this book is its sustained and intellectually valid investigation of the question of homosexuality in Pasolini’s writing and cinema. It is an investigation that is long overdue, both in Italy and in North America. Focusing on literary and cinematic work from the period immediately preceding Pasolini’s assassination—including texts that have received exceedingly little scholarly attention—Maggi offers a very original understanding of Pasolini’s artistic response to the ‘apocalypse’ of consumer capitalism. Maggi’s close analyses of Pasolini’s late works—all of which are marked by strong religious preoccupations—benefit not only from the author’s expertise in early modern religious thought but also from his excellent knowledge of the history and culture of modern Italy. Refreshingly, Maggi takes many intellectual risks and he often asks his readers to step outside disciplinary comfort zones. In the process, he offers confirmation of Pasolini’s central importance in modern European intellectual history.”

Patrick Rumble, University of Wisconsin–Madison

“This is a book of striking originality—in its approach to Pasolini and in its reconfiguring of his oeuvre in light of Maggi’s ‘sodomitical’ reading of four key late works. It is packed with insights gleaned both from Maggi’s detailed and powerfully argued close analyses and from his highly stimulating forays beyond the four core texts.”

Robert Gordon, University of Cambridge

The Resurrection of the Body offers a sophisticated and astute reading of the poetics informing the last phase of Pasolini’s career. Maggi makes a determined case for considering the ways in which Sodom came to dominate Pasolini’s imagination at a time when he represented the ultimate ‘ambassador from this original land of total destruction.’ The Resurrection of the Body exposes the transformation in Pasolini’s late work of a sexual and mythical topos into an obsession with the apocalypse in modernity and of modernity. The book traces a new genealogy for Pasolini’s ultimate, politically radical reflections in which sexuality and the sacred figure prominently at the expense of what might be regarded as the more obviously identifiable sources of the artist’s Marxist views. Maggi offers an original reading of the logic of Pasolini’s works and, in so doing, delivers a needed contribution to the discussion of the most crucial yet least understood of Pasolini’s artistic productions.”

Alessia Ricciardi, University of California, Berkeley

"A work of exquisite scholarship that argues for the crucial significance of not only the body, but of the homosexual body, to Pasolini’s exhilarating and challenging work."

John David Rhodes, | Times Higher Education

"Maggi (Univ. of Chicago) brings his interpretive skills to a close reading of four of Pasolini's works...He is meticulous in his analysis of Pasolini's use of source material, focusing on the connection between religion and literature, between a sacred past and a profane present...Summing Up: Recommended."

S. Vander Closter, Rhode Island School of Design | Choice

Table of Contents


INTRODUCTION  Sodom, Its Inhabitants, and Its Language in Pasolini’s Final Works

1. A Body of Nostalgia: Pasolini’s Self-Portrait in the Film Project Saint Paul

2. The Journey to Sodom and Gomorrah and Beyond: The Scenario Porn-Theo-Colossal

3. "A Diluted Reel of Film in My Brain": To Preach a New "Word of Abjuration" in Petrolio

4. To Give Birth in Salò and Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom

CONCLUSION  "A Schizophrenic Child Is a Tiny Dot, I Dreamed Once": Metamorphosis in Mario Mieli and Pasolini

Appendix: A Basic Biography



Lambda Literary Foundation: Lambda Literary Awards

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