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Fenoglio’s Binoculars, Johnny’s Eyes

History, Language, and Narrative Technique in Fenoglio’s "Il Partigiano Johnny</I>


Philip Cooke

Beppe Fenoglio (1922-1963) is one of Italy’s major postwar writers. His contemporary Italo Calvino described one of his novels, Una questione privata, as the work that his generation had dreamed of writing. But it is Fenoglio’s posthumously published Il partigiano Johnny, based on the author’s experience as a partisan in the Langhe hills during World War Two, and written in an intriguing mixture of Italian and English, which is considered to be his master-piece. This new in-depth study argues that Il partigiano Johnny can best be interpreted by understanding the complex narrative techniques that Fenoglio employs, and by firmly placing the work within its historical context. It also proposes a new solution to the puzzle of the language of this fascinating and complex work.