The Ragazzi

Pier Paolo Pasolini, Author
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Author Carcanet Press, $0 (256p) ISBN 978-0-85635-605-6
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
First published in Italy in 1955, at the beginning of Pasolini's literary career, this novel preceded last year's A Violent Life. The celebrated filmmaker, who died violently at the hands of thugs in 1975, was fatally enthralled by the scurvy conduct of the ""ragazzi'' of Rome's wretched slums. The camera eye first fixes on the 12-year-old Riccetto and his hoodlum friends in 1944 during the German occupation and follows them through the American phase and into the immediate postwar period. The lens remains obsessively focused on every move they make, just as the microphone picks up every snarl and shout, including the obscenities that are their principal means of communication. Riccetto and the others live an ugly life; they lie and cheat, steal and swindle. When a turn of events requires decency, honor, courage, Riccetto, by age 14 a ``grade-A bastard,'' is capable only of the morality of the cesspool. As with most obsessions, Pasolini's can become burdensome through drumming repetition. His depiction of squalor grows numbing by sheer insistence, which is not to deny the novel a measure of power and a painful authenticity. (September 19)
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