Death and Dying in Literature
Edited By John J. Han and Clark C. Triplett
Chapter Five: Death as an Instrument for Social Criticism in Young Italian Literature
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Death AS AN Instrument FOR Social Criticism IN Young Italian Literature
In the late 1990s, something new and disturbing appeared on Italy’s literary scene. Young authors published exceptional debut novels written in an experimental style and coarse language dealing with issues such as deviant sexual behavior, crime, drugs, madness, and death. Publishers and critics dubbed these writers Giovani Cannibali (“Young Cannibals”), sometimes referred to as Italian Pulp (Lucamente 15–16; Turchetta 11–12).
In this paper, I do not aim to point out reasons why readers should feel shocked by their books; on the contrary, I seek to examine death as an instrument for social criticism in the work of selected authors of this movement. This essay is based on the assumption that drastic images of death can be used for a moral purpose. Up to now, most of the novels and short stories discussed in this paper have not received the publicity they deserve and have rarely or never been subjects of academic work. Only a few of them, like Simona Vinci’s books, have been translated into English and other languages. With this essay, I also hope to increase the popularity of these young authors.
Simona Vinci’s debut novel, Dei bambini non si sa niente (1997, also published in English under the title What We Don’t Know about Children), tells the story of...
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