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Giorgio Scerbanenco

Urban Space, Violence and Gender Identity in Post-War Italian Crime Fiction


Marco Paoli

The works of Giorgio Scerbanenco repeatedly articulate and explore the implications of new forms of criminality that emerged in Italy’s post-war transformation towards its «economic miracle». An indepth analysis of Scerbanenco’s Duca Lamberti series constitutes the critical focus of this study, and in particular the psychological resonances of the role played by the author’s controversial representation of the urban space, its violence, (in)justice and gender roles. In what way do these elements heighten and/or exaggerate the nature of the criminal acts and the reader’s experience? This study therefore investigates a reader’s potential response to the content, the settings, and, above all, the characters Scerbanenco portrays in these four novels.


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Preface by Cecilia Scerbanenco


11 Preface Il destino di mettersi a narrare gli era nato di colpo leggendo un ro- manzo. A un certo punto vi descriveva l’ultimo incontro tra due ma- turi amanti: lei capace d’ingannarsi ancora sull’amore di lui (…); lui deciso come non mai a lasciarla. Quella gioia illusoria della donna e la crudele contraddizione della realtà emozionarono Scerbanenco. Gli parve che proprio in quel rapporto stesse un poco l’intera sostanza della vita. This paragraph is part of an interview by Oreste del Buono, published in 1953 in the Italian magazine Oggi. My father, Giorgio Scerbanenco, roots his desire to write – to narrate – in the complex- ity of human beings, and in the contradictions of our emotions and lives. I have rarely found a better description of his work than in these few lines. Contradiction and complexity are the key aspects to my father’s writing, style and personality. Nevertheless, Scerbanenco has been too often judged ‘too simple’. This has been said of both his char- acters and his prose. So, when I read Marco Paoli’s work, I particu- larly enjoyed it because I discovered that we share the same critical approach with regard to my father’s work. Over the last ten years, I have tried to collect all my father’s works. This has given me a quite clear view of how complex and contradictory his life had been: both professionally and person- ally. He was born into an intellectual family during the Belle Époque. Following the violent death of his aristocratic father...

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