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Society and family politics: Laura Grimaldi's trilogy "Perfide storie di famiglia"

Di Ciolla, Nicoletta (2003) Society and family politics: Laura Grimaldi's trilogy "Perfide storie di famiglia". ISSN 0816-5432

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Abstract

The crime genre, or "giallo", which in Italy has experienced mixed fortunes that ranged from voracious consumption to total, if coerced, obliteration, is currently enjoying unprecedented popularity. In the years following the First World War, just as the first Italian-born strand of crime fiction was beginning to develop as an alternative to the foreign masters, the endeavours of writers such as Alessandro Varaldo, Arturo Lanocita, Augusto De Angelis and others were nullified by the onset of Fascism and its aversion to what it considered a potentially corrupting genre. The tenaciously censorious Fascist campaign, which culminated in July 1941 with the confiscation of all crime novels in circulation in Italy, Italian-authored and otherwise, continued in the following months with the closure of the two main dedicated series, I Libri Gialli and I Gialli Economici, both owned by Mondadori. If the end of the Second World War removed the stigma that the Fascist ideology had imposed on the crime genre, the creativity of the many writers who, from the 1950s onwards, were submitting their manuscripts to Mondadori (still a prime outlet for crime fiction) and other publishers, was stifled by a further form of restraint represented by the new market forces: the Italian readership, freed from years of coerced reading of carefully vetted and exclusively autarchic literature, craved the promises of exotic settings and plots suggested by foreign names which, in crime fiction, were Hammett, Chandler or Stout, and shunned national authors.1 This unconditional xenophilia began to relent from the late 1960s when the publishing industry became more attentive and responsive to Italian authors, partly due to a change in taste of the reading public, partly because some Italian novelists, operating a sort of genre contamination, incorporated crime fiction elements into "non genre" works and thus created innovative, appealing literature. Gadda, Sciascia and Veraldi, for instance, are writers who, extrapolating certain formulae of the crime genre and integrating them into their works, produced novels in which the mystery element became an instrument for the social and existential analysis of 'contemporary Italian reality and which were able to exercise a strong appeal on the Italian reading public.

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