Carlo Levi and Mario Soldati 'boys': the journey, the body, anti-fascism

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Acquire tools for understanding and commenting on contemporary prose of an autobiographical nature.

Delve into and compare the most recent theoretical research, both national and international, on the genre of autobiography.

Develop skills in stylistic and rhetorical analysis of autobiographical syntax and vocabulary.

Show hermeneutic skills in the intra- and intertextual interpretation of works by one or more authors.

Acquire the ability to compare and interweave different disciplines, in particular between writing and painting but also between literature and cinema.

To reason about the historical matrix of authorial choices.

To deepen the knowledge of the literary, artistic and cinematographic work of the two authors.


The course aims to deepen the knowledge of the works of two of the greatest writers of the Italian twentieth century, Carlo Levi and Mario Soldati, in relation to their experience of growth and youth in Gobetti's and post-Gobetti's Turin. The first group of lessons will be aimed at reconstructing the stages of a training path that has not yet been fully focused on by critics. The comparison with the lesson of Lionello Venturi, through the rereading of an 'outdated' essay such as Il gusto dei primitivi (Zanichelli 1926), and that with the masterful figure of Felice Casorati will be the starting points to reason on the progressive awareness of political and spiritual anti-fascism not only by the two writers, but by an entire generation of women and men destined to mark the destiny of our country.

The second part of the course will focus attention on two thematic nodes only apparently separated from the political motif. On the one hand, there is the educational journey in which, for both future writers, the figure of Venturi played a specific role in their youth: Soldati's study trip to America, narrated in America primo amore (Bemporad 1935); Levi's repeated trips to Paris in the 1930s, the period of his greatest commitment to painting and his participation in the group of 'Six' painters in Turin. On the other hand, it will be necessary to reflect on the role that the discovery of the body and the eroticism of love played in the political awareness of two young men who were never indifferent to the relationship between the 'emotional' experience of living and the civil commitment of 'doing'.

Educational aims

All years of Phd.

Bibliographical references

M. Soldati, America primo amore, a cura di S.  S. Nigro, Sellerio, Palermo 2003.


C. Levi, Paura della libertà, Introduzione di G. Agamben, Neri Pozza, Vicenza 2020.


C. Levi, Lo specchio. Scritti di critica d'arte, a cura di P. Vivarelli, Donzelli, Roma 2001.


G. Debenedetti, Probabile autobiografia di una generazione, in Id., Saggi 1922-1966, a cura di F. Contorbia, Mondadori, Milano 1982.


E. Donzelli, I misteriosi anni Venti. Lalla Romano e la Torino post-gobettiana, in "Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana", n. fasc. 4, 2020.


E. Donzelli, La natura morta della poesia. Sul 'Fiore' di Lalla Romano, in "Bollettino di italianistica", n. 1, 2021.