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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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Chapter 3. Female Characters and Gender Identity

← 162 | 163 →CHAPTER 3


In Chapter 2, this study concluded that the role and use of violence to distinguish criminal from non-criminal goes into crisis and becomes a matter of investigation. Scerbanenco’s analysis of criminal characters and their reasons for embarking on a criminal career is not explored deeply. This provides the reader with a ‘comfortable’ distance, which precludes any possible in-depth moral evaluation of these characters other than in terms of the negative consequences of the economic miracle. The economic miracle can therefore be considered the major traumatic event, which had an impact on the way society developed in the post-war period, not only in terms of the transformation of the urban space and the use of violence by the new generation of criminals (as discussed in Chapters 1 and 2), but also in the way masculine and feminine identities were constructed and shaped. In this respect, Jacques Lacan specifies that an event is traumatic “on the basis of the traumatic consequences it has on the actual behaviour of the subject” (1988: 189). This provides an additional stimulating critical approach, which focuses on the recognition of symptoms caused by repressed traumas. After providing contextual historical information on the major contemporary events and socio-political and economic transformations, which have resulted in cultural traumas, and played a crucial role in shaping masculine and feminine identities, this chapter will focus on Scerbanenco’s representation of gender, in particular women’s social role and the reader’s perception of it, by examining the four Lamberti novels as a symptomatic reaction...

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