‘One Should Not Hope For Anything’
“I wanted to write a novel… However, you could find articles, journalism, reviews, letters, and even poems in it…“… this is what Pier Paolo Pasolini (March 5, 1922 – November 2, 1975) wrote in his last letter to his friend and noted author Alberto Moravia, while talking about his unfinished novel. Unfortunately, the noted Italian film director, poet, writer, and intellectual – who also distinguished himself as an actor, journalist, novelist, playwright, and political figure – was murdered before sending the letter to Moravia…
In an interview recorded earlier in 1975, Pasolini said that he had started writing a book and it could take his whole life to complete the project! His actual plan was to pen a 2,000-page novel! However, Pasolini was murdered on November 2, 1975 on the beach at Ostia. He had been run over several times by his own car. Later, the Italian media reported that quite a lot of bones in his body were broken… even his testicles were crushed by what appeared to be a metal bar. An autopsy revealed that his body had been partially burned with patrol after his death. The investigators discovered the manuscripts of the unfinished novel inside a folder on his desk a few days after his death. He managed to write only 521 pages! Pasolini had named the novel ‘Petrolio‘!
Pier Paolo Pasolini
The main character of Pasolini’s unfinished work is Carlo Valletti, an engineer by profession. His personality had two entities: one was a power-monger, while the other one with a tremendous lust! He could also change his body… and would become a woman! The raconteur, too, had two different entities. Sometimes, he got involved in the story as a writer and explained the meaning of the events… and sometimes, he would be invisible, and talk to the readers, directly!
The story of Petrolio begins on one morning of May 1960. Carlo Valetti, standing on a fifth-floor balcony, finds his own dead-body lying near his feet. All of a sudden, the body shows signs of life and takes the form of a baby. As the child grows up, he becomes another Carlo… as if they are two old friends, who want to share the same life, and participate in the same comedy!
Crime scene showing Pasolini’s corpse
Carlo, born in Turin, spent his childhood in Ravenna. In 1945, a person, named Pascual, started following Carlo. Carlo used to carry five books – namely, Don Quixote, Tristram Shandy, Dead Souls, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake – in his suitcase. He also had Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed and The Brothers Karamazov, Dante’s Divina Commedia, the works of Marquis de Sade and Rabindranath Tagore’s collection of poems in his library…
Pasolini trued to describe different types of intellectuals through Carlo… all of them were unstable… while some of them could not handle their reputation, others were burdened with intelligence. Also, Pasolini saw the power structure in different forms! The two Carlos met every afternoon mainly to discuss about heroes of Balzac and Dostoyevsky. Although they are well-endowed with elements of Greatness, they – at times – commit crime! They believe that Political Power and Physical Power are the same! Their idea about sexuality influences the culture after crossing the limit of physical activities…
Pasolini visiting Antonio Gramsci’s tomb
According to Pasolini, Carlo wanted to feel his existence through his experiences. Every morning, he chose to think what had happened the previous night. One day, he came out of the world of sex and power, and dreamed of entering into a church. However, he found a demon, and not God, inside the church. He smiled while looking at the statues… and, also felt that the masses were over quite some time ago! All faces and objects took the shape of a question mark!
The unfinished novel was published 17 years after Pasolini’s demise. History, contemporary culture and even fiction found their places in the novel. Pasolini, himself, wrote: “My intention is not to write a story, but to construct a form… a form consisting simply of something written.” His family members did not want this novel to get published for a long time…
Italy was going through a crisis during Pasolini’s childhood. His father was a Fascist, while his mother was an anti-Mussolini. He witnessed both the rise and fall of Fascists under the leadership of Mussolini. The top political leadership started restructuring the nation in post-war Italy. The farmers, who became refugees, arrived at major cities. Pasolini had a deep compassion for his war-ravaged country…
Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky were Pasolini’s favourite authors. He also loved to watch movies made by Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein and Alfred Hitchcock. This was how he developed a keen interest in cinema. Moravia used to consider Pasolini as one of the most important poets of the second half of 20th Century. Death, politics and sexuality were the main topics of his poetry. His first novel – ‘Ragazzi di vita‘ (‘The Ragazzi‘) – was published in 1955. Four years later, Pasolini published his second novel, ‘Una vita violenta‘ (‘A Violent Life‘). In these two publications, he narrated the inhuman poverty in post-war Rome… hunger, theft, crime, betrayal, prostitution, black market, cruelty to children, etc.
On the contrary, Pasolini made an attempt to portray the reality through signs and symbols in his unfinished work Petrolio. He also tried to find the meaning of relationship between the author and his creations. He wanted to create a ‘chaos‘ that would be mysterious, but there should be a kind of discipline. He created some characters who were unstable, empty, and crazy. Once, Pasolini wrote that he had wanted to create his own sepulchre through his creations.
Even, Carlo – the main character of Petrolio – withdrew himself from everything, and took shelter in loneliness! His only companion was dream, which had no past or no regret. Sometimes, Carlo saw a dumb man in his dream! When he woke up, the man started communicating by using Carlo’s voice. Then, Carlo recalled Sigmund Freud’s words: “To dream that someone else is deaf suggests that someone close to you is withdrawn.”
Perhaps, Pasolini indicated his death through the character created by him…
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