So this is a man : renegotiating Italian masculinity through liminality
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In Italy, the period directly following World War II was marked by confusion and turbulence as the people struggled to reconstruct both the ideological and physical infrastructure of the nation. While much study has been dedicated to the evolution of femininity and the figure of the woman in this particular period, comparatively little has been written on the refashioning of masculinity in the texts produced in the period between 1940 and 1955. After the fall of the Fascist Regime, Italian masculinity undergoes a drastic transformation as the generation of young men born and raised under the tutelage of Mussolini’s reign attempt to separate themselves from the now-tainted codes of conduct governing male behavior. This report analyzes the renegotiation of Italian masculinity in G. Silvano Spinetti’s non-fictional account Difesa di una generazione (scritti e appunti), Italo Calvino’s Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno, Beppe Fenoglio’s short story “Gli inizi del partigiano Raoul” and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Ragazzi di vita. These works, written and published in the postwar period, manipulate the vi marginality and privation experienced by the Italian population during the war and postwar period into a liminal state brimming with revolutionary potentiality. The protagonists of these texts (both fictional and non-fictional), isolated from the larger social context and deprived of individual identity, property and privilege, circumvent their polluted patriarchal lines in favor of an alternative ideological patriarchy. While Spinetti, Calvino and Fenoglio’s works advance their liminal narratives as a means of creating an emblematic Italian man capable of rejoining the generative discourse, Pasolini’s text renounces such a progressive view. In Ragazzi di vita, the only possibility for a masculine identity free of Fascism resides in a maintaining a perennial liminality.