Comparative Perspectives on Utopia - Proceedings of Synapsis: European School of Comparative Studies XI
Vasco Pratolini’s Neighbourhood as Utopia
← 202 | 203 → GIOVANNI DE LEVA
In Plato’s Republic, to understand what justice is, Socrates uses the mythopoesis of polis: ‘“Then”, I said, “let us begin and create in idea a polis […]; come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in story-telling, and our story shall be the education of our heroes”’ (Republic, II, 369d and 376d). Similarly, in Thomas More’s Utopia (1516), Raphael tells of Utopia in order to argue for the abolition of private property and to show his listeners what ‘Patterns might be taken for correcting the errors of these nations among whom we live’.1 Even if understood in the strict sense as a representation of a perfect society, Utopia comes from a story, from the narration of a myth used to validate philosophical research and to affect reality.
In this sense of a model mediated through narrative, rather than as an image of an idealized reality, the concept of utopia can be applied to Vasco Pratolini’s work,2 in particular to the chronotope of the neighbourhood or ‘quarter’. Through the concept of the quarter, Pratolini does not represent a perfect society, without thought of history and conflict, but rather proposes a viable community model to post-war Italy.3 I will try to show how in Il quartiere (1944), Le ragazze di San Frediano (1949) and Metello (1955), the ← 203 | 204 → quarter also shares some key features with the classic Utopia: the separation from the rest of the world, the supportive social structure,...
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