Pier Paolo Pasolini translated from the Italian by Marina Harss

Stories From the City of God

Sketches and Chronicles of Rome 1950-1966

Publication Date: Nov 17, 2003

272 pp


List Price US $24.00
ISBN: 9781590510483

Stories From the City of God collects legendary filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini’s short fiction and nonfiction from 1950 to 1966. In these pieces, we see the machinations of the creative mind in consideration of the character of Rome after World War II.

Presenting a portrait of the city that is at once poignant and intimate, as honest as if it were the author’s journal, we find here artistic witness to the customs, dialect, squalor, and beauty of the ancient imperial capital that has succumbed to modern warfare, marginalization, and mass culture.

The sketches portray the impoverished masses that he calls “the sub-proletariat”, those who live under Third World conditions and for whom simple pleasures, such as a blue sweater in a storefront window, are completely out of reach. In the chronicles, Pasolini faithfully renders life in Rome in the infinite stretches of public housing on the periphery of the city.

Pasolini’s art develops throughout the works collected here, from his early lyricism to tragicomic outlines for screenplays, and finally to the maturation of his Neo-realism in eight chronicles on the shantytowns of Rome. The pieces in this collection were all published in Italian journals and newspapers, and then later edited by Walter Siti in the original Italian edition. Marina Harss of The New Yorker has translated the work for its first publication in English.

Excerpt from Stories From the City of God

“Pasolini should be better known in English as a writer—as a poet, novelist, and journalist—and this volume provides a good introduction. It’s a collection of short pieces written between 1950, when Pasolini arrived in Rome, “the city of God,” from his native Friuli, and 1966, and published mainly in newspapers and periodicals. The first half of the book is a stroll through lowlife Rome—the ragazzi (street boys) selling chestnuts on the Ponte Garibaldi, or diving off a float in the Tiber, or stealing fish from the city market to sell in Testaccio. The pieces in the second half range from commentary on Roman slang and on housing for the poor to an account of a day spent with Alberto Moravia. Throughout, the main character is the city, where ‘beauty and ugliness go hand in hand’: ‘The latter renders the former touching and human. The former allows us to forget the latter.'” —New Yorker
“Pasolini’s lightness of touch and breadth of observation combine in a gestural prose with a revolutionary purpose.” —Film Comment

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