Murder in the Age of Chaos: Investigating Italy’s Past

pezzottiBarbara Pezzotti, Investigating Italy’s Past through Historical Crime Fiction, Films, and TV Series: Murder in the Age of Chaos (London and New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2016).

This book is the first monograph in English that comprehensively examines the ways in which Italian historical crime novels, TV series, and films have become a means to intervene in the social and political changes of the country. This study explores the ways in which fictional representations of the past mirror contemporaneous anxieties within Italian society in the work of writers such as Leonardo Sciascia, Andrea Camilleri, Carlo Lucarelli, Francesco Guccini, Loriano Macchiavelli, Marcello Fois, Maurizio De Giovanni, and Giancarlo De Cataldo; film directors such as Elio Petri, Pietro Germi, Michele Placido, and Damiano Damiani; and TV series such as the “Commissario De Luca” series, the “Commissario Nardone” series, and “Romanzo criminale–The series.”  Providing the most wide-ranging examination of this sub-genre in Italy, Barbara Pezzotti places works set in the Risorgimento, WWII, and the Years of Lead in the larger social and political context of contemporary Italy.
“With this book, Barbara Pezzotti completes a trilogy of sorts begun with The Importance of Place in Contemporary Italian Crime Fiction (2012) and continued with Politics and Society in Italian Crime Fiction (2014). Considering the vast production of historical detective fiction in Italy, she argues that the genre serves to consider the past from alternative perspectives from those of official historiography, and to give a voice to those on the margins of mainstream historical accounts. Pezzotti is a superb close reader, and balances an attention to the text with complex theoretical and historiographic questions such as the role of memory in shaping individual and collective identity, and individual responsibility in the face of the collective crimes of the Fascist regime.” (Luca Somigli, Professor of Italian Studies, University of Toronto, Canada)
“With this book, Pezzotti further cements her reputation as the foremost expert on the intersection of place, history, and national identity in Italian crime fiction. Essential reading.” (Robert Rushing, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA and author of “Resisting Arrest: Detective Fiction & Popular Culture”)
“Evincing deep familiarity with her material, Pezzotti shows in this ambitious study how recent novels, films, and television series dealing with the Italian past mediate ideological positions from the coeval political culture.” (Alan O’Leary, Associate Professor of Italian, University of Leeds, UK and author of “Tragedia all’italiana: Italian Cinema and Italian Terrorisms, 1970-2010”)
“Pezzotti’s fine book presents an authoritative overview of recent Italian crime fiction. Lucidly written and compellingly interdisciplinary, this book emphasises the capacity of crime fiction to fill in the gaps left by historians, and the power and relevance of cultural responses to a contested and difficult past.” (Philip Cooke, Professor of Italian History and Culture, University of Strathclyde, UK and author of “The Legacy of the Italian Resistance”)
“Pezzotti’s fascinating study shows how crime fiction has been used to probe and question Italy’s historical open wounds and unresolved legacies. The Risorgimento, Fascism and the war, and the anni di piombo are each carefully illuminated in turn through the lens and intelligent eye of the contemporary giallo.” (Robert S. C Gordon, Serena Professor of Italian, University of Cambridge, UK and author of “The Holocaust in Italian Culture, 1944-2010”)
(From the publisher )
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