Jean Anderson (VUW): Hot on their Heels: the Female Detective in Television Crime Series.
Television screens are currently overrun with successful crime series: this is true of many countries and cultures, although it is perhaps especially the case where the “Nordic noir” phenomenon is concerned. Denmark’s 2007-2012 Forbrydelsen (The Killing) and the Swedish/Danish co-production 2011-2013 Bron/Broen (The Bridge) have each spawned a number of spinoffs, from the UK and the USA. Sarah Lund and Saga Noren, the two female lead detectives in the original series, bring a particular slant to the role of female investigator: both appear to behave in ways that might be described as non-feminine. They are emotionally distant, not only from their colleagues and the criminals they pursue, but also from their families. This atypical behaviour is further emphasised by the way they appear visually: Lund’s “uniform” of chunky sweater and jeans, and Noren’s leather trousers and T-shirts underscore a strictly non-seductive (masculine?) physicality. A further statement of distancing from seduction can be seen in the likes of Vera (UK) and Los misterios de Laura (Spain), while the leather-clad female leads of Distretto di Polizia (Italy), Prime Suspect (USA) and Engrenages (France) seemingly signal both seduction and a degree of masculinisation. On the other hand, Candice Renoir and Elodie Bradford (France), like Jessica King (Canada) appear to follow in the footsteps of Pepper Anderson (Policewoman, USA) in exploiting a kind of hyper-femininity signalled by stiletto heels and tight skirts. In The Fall (UK) Stella Gibson paints her fingernails the same colour as the serial killer applies to the murdered women, as the text underlines the parallels between victim and avenger.
Taking a selection of examples primarily from recent European and American crime series, but with some reference to “classics”, this paper will explore the ways in which traditional codes of femininity are being either exploited or undermined by television series featuring women detectives in lead positions. Part of a larger work in progress, this study will focus on deciphering the codes of physical appearance (notably clothing) and levels of activity (chase scenes) used by these series as a means of “performing” gender.
Claudia Bernardi (VUW): The Accidental Detective (Writer): Murder, Gender and Sexuality in Rossana Campo’s Fiction.
The fiction of Rossana Campo (b.1963) occupies an uneasy place in the Italian literary canon. On the one hand, her early novels of the 1990s were praised by critics as the natural development of the Neoavanguardia for their use of colloquial language and low registers; on the other hand, given her focus on women’s love lives, her fiction has also been perceived as popular romance. Between being hailed as an avant-garde author and being dismissed as a high-end chick-lit writer, Campo’s engagement with the mystery genre has been generally overlooked. Yet, four of her most recent novels belong to that genre. Mentre la mia bella dorme (1999), Duro come l’amore (2005), Lezioni di arabo (2010) and Il posto delle donne (2013) all centre around women who seek love but must contend with violence and murder along the way, forced to become accidental detectives and investigate mysteries about men who hate women.
In discussing these works, I hope to show how Campo’s accidental detectives reflect the writer’s own accidental (yet entirely deliberate) use of the genre, flexible enough to allow her to tell a darker side of contemporary women’s quest for sexual freedom, including the freedom from compulsory heterosexuality.
Piera Carroli (ANU): GialloWave/Ondate di giallo in contemporary Italian crime fiction: interstizi narrativi e di genere in Emilia Romagna.
Crime fiction has been a powerful vehicle for representing deep-rooted evils such as corruption and criminality in Italian society. In a sense, the ‘giallo’ tradition in Italy has never completely been an ‘evasion’ genre, but a tool for highlighting injustice and social and political violence at the expense of the underdog (e.g., Sciascia, Camilleri). More recently the ‘giallo’ has evolved into the noir and neo-noir genres, crossing into what Wu Ming has defined New Italian Epic, with more ‘invasive’ narratives that privilege the visual on a formal level. Content-wise, the array of creative production is very diverse at all levels: period, place, space, protagonists and themes.
Most crime fiction of the past 20 years has in common social, political and historical criticism. Investigation of degraded present situations (either individual, family, regional or National), including crime in multicultural contexts at the Italian antipodes, Sicily and Emilia-Romagna (e.g., Marilu Oliva), or detectives in dresses (e.g., Uno sbirro femmina by Sicilian Stefania La Spina, or Emilian Grazia Verasani’s and Neapolitan Patrizia Rinaldi’s woman detective) and / or major historical periods and events, such as Lucarelli’s two novels set in the colonial period in Africa, explore injustice through the investigation of crime. The Romagnan noir anthropologist Eraldo Baldini who in the past has mixed folk tradition with noir, as well as enquiring into historical folk tales with gruesome discovery of historical facts (the children’s crucade), ventured into dystopia with Melma (2007), with a strong critique of the politics of ecology.
After a brief introduction to genres and a mapping of different writers, I will concentrate on a few specific authors and texts.
Daniela Cavallaro (University of Auckland): Female detectives in 1950s educational theatre.
The educational stage for young women in 1950s Italy would not seem the ideal location for the development of crime plots, both because most educational plays tried to avoid the representation of any evil action, and because the presence of a female detective on stage would have seemed most unlikely at the time. However, a few plays written specifically for all-women casts during the 1950s did make use of the giallo genre, even within the limitations of plot and protagonist. Some, like Pensione dei glicini (1952) adapted from the French by Amilcare Marescalchi, or L’impiccata (1957) by Lidia Micaela Cressin, and L’anello col rubino (1959) by Emilio Garro, created a thrilling atmosphere of theft or even a murder only to reveal in the end that no real crime had actually been committed. Others, like Corso Roma, 43 (1951) and Ladro di cuori (1952), both by Pompeo Grassi, however, went so far as to have mysterious deaths on onstage.
But if a crime is committed or even suspected on the all-women educational stage, who do you call? Rarely qualified as police , the protagonists of the educational gialli were chosen for their discretion, their ability to blend in with the environment, or their family connection with a working or retired policeman. In my presentation, I will concentrate on the female detectives in the educational theatre gialli in Italy during the 1950s: their credentials for being called to solve a mystery, their investigative techniques, and their success rate.
Mirna Cicioni (Monash University): History, Murder and Biography: Pellegrino Artusi and Dante Alighieri as Sleuths.
In most historical crime fiction the detective, whether amateur or professional, is a fictional character. Some novels, however, feature well-known historical figures as amateur detectives; the American scholar Anita Vickers defines these texts as a “mixture of biography, scholarship and detective fiction.” This subgenre, quite popular in English-speaking countries, is not as widespread in Italy. I look at three best-selling novels published between 2004 and 2011. Two of them, by Giulio Leoni, I delitti del mosaico and La crociata delle tenebre, revolve around political schemes uncovered at the beginning of the fourteenth century by Durante Alighieri, better known as Dante. The third, Odore di chiuso, by Marco Malvaldi, set in 1895, is an entertaining “locked room murder in a country manor” solved by Pellegrino Artusi, the author of the first cookbook of post-unification Italy.
Drawing on Brian McHale’s distinction between “epistemological” and “ontological” crime fiction and on John Scaggs’ view that crime fiction is unavoidably self-referential, I analyse the role of Artusi and Dante in the representation of the different ways of “knowing” in their respective historical periods, and the dialogue between past and present constructed around depictions of social and political diversity, language issues, and ideas of “Italy”.
Theodore Ell (ACIS; University of Sydney): Between chapter and verse, the unconscious catch: Marcello Fois’s Sempre caro.
The giveaway clue: what every detective, every searcher after the truth, is looking for. But what if, in the prosaic business of assembling facts and adding up motives, that one gift is missing? What if the witnesses, even the main suspect, keep re-ordering the surface of events, so that there seems to be no reasonable connection between fact, report and conjecture? Then, you have to go deeper. You have to dig down to the basic rhythm, the connection that is implied and offered but never spoken, the tiny detail that sets the whole complex alight. You have to turn logic into likeness, suspicion into symbol, prose into poetry. Then perhaps your thought will rhyme with the truth.
This is the detective work beneath the investigation recounted in Sempre caro by Marcello Fois. Set in Sardinia at the moment of Italy’s Unification, its central figure is an attorney dedicated to upholding the rights of the poor, not least the presumption of innocence. Yet one murder case poses intractable problems: not one reconstruction of the crime offers an explanation for the death. Obsessed, our investigator indulges his strange habit of taking long walks, reciting Leopardi’s L’Infinito – and through the forces of rhythm, repetition and unconscious association, he suddenly perceives the unseen links in the case.
This talk will explore the interlacing of narrative exposition and poetic juxtaposition, the deductive potential of parataxis versus hypotaxis, and the role of the unconscious in prompting and guiding the waking mind with unexpected images and clues.
Spoiler alert: this talk will reveal whodunit.
Enrichetta Frezzato (Oxford University): From a local to a global perspective in crime writing: on Massimo Carlotto, impegno, and Respiro corto.
Since his debut as a writer in 1995, Massimo Carlotto has shown a constant commitment towards the portrayal of a range of social issues, especially the transformation of the criminal underworld, both within the context of contemporary Italy and crossing the national borders. The author chose to employ crime writing precisely as a malleable tool that would allow him to weave narrative plots while simultaneously expanding beyond the details of each single criminal case to investigate a number of social, political, and economical matters affecting a specific territory.
Originating from an extensive enquiry into the Italian northeast (which included novels in the ‘Alligatore’ series alongside titles like Nordest), Carlotto’s path subsequently developed into an analysis of the evolution of criminal organizations on a national and international level and of their interconnections with the sphere of legality.
Following a brief introduction in which I will outline Carlotto’s use of genre as a tool for impegno, my aim with this paper will be to retrace the different stages that led the author’s analysis from a local to a global scale and culminated into the publication of Respiro corto in 2012, where Carlotto explores the development of organized crime in a globalized era.
Sandra Graham (Sydney): The Look of Others: Capturing italianità in English.
Typically, English language novels that are set in Italy are usually semi-comical travel literature where the writer, dissatisfied with their life, goes to Italy (often Tuscany) to seek a simpler life filled with tradition and art (and often a badly dilapidated village house) and in doing so meets quirky, salt-of-the-earth Italians who instill in the deluded writer a renewed sense of joie-de-vivre. However, crime writers such as Donna Leon and Michael Dibdin have carved out careers writing crime novels set in Italy that are a far cry from the Tuscan idyll. By virtue of the crime genre’s conventions, these writers actively dismember reader’s idealized notions of the famed ‘la dolce vita’. Yet, little serious and critical work has been conducted on their writing, their depiction of bell’Italia and moreover, how they construct the ‘italianness’ of Italy in the English language and for an English reader.
From the personal perspective of a writer, I will examine the works of six English language authors to discuss their vision of Italy and the writing techniques that they have used to convey the Italianità of Italian culture and society. I will concentrate on writers who have set their novels in Rome and Southern Italy. This examination will highlight how crime writing conventions have constructed Italy for its English language readers and what it can tell us about our relationship to Italy’s complex history, politics, society and culture.
Stewart King (Monash University): Detectives and Dictatorships: Policing and Justice in Historical Crime Novels by Maurizio de Giovanni and Agustí Vehí.
Since Philip Kerr published March Violets (1989), the first of a series of novels featuring Bernie Gunther, a Kommissar in the Nazi police force, mystery writers from around the globe have produced an increasing number of crime novels set in dictatorial regimes. While the popularity of these novels may be due to the light they shed on a nation’s murky past, these novels also raise important questions concerning policing and the provision of justice in societies that are, themselves, considered criminal.
Taking a world literature approach, the paper seeks to compare and contrast the figure of the police detective as representative of the totalitarian state and the problematic provision of justice in Fascist Italy and Francoist Spain. In doing so, the paper will examine two novels: Maurizio de Giovanni’s Il senso del dolore. L’inverno del commissario Ricciardi (2007), translated by Anne Milano Appel as I Will Have Vengeance: The Winter of Commissario Ricciardi (2012), and Quan la nit mata el día (When the Night Kills the Day, 2011) by the Catalan writer and policeman Agustí Vehí.
Stephen Knight (University of Melbourne): Politics and Policing in World Crime Fiction
Crime fiction is both the agent and the victim of politics and policing. It was long regarded as a literary form popular to the point of being vulgar, and not worth serious consideration. But the broadening of cultural analysis and the continuing claim the genre makes on people’s attention has encouraged a range of more serious approaches, capable of recognising the status of the genre. Its origin was in, and of, the time of revolutions, the 1790s; then it charted the nineteenth-century rise of megalopolitan Western society, responded to both twentieth-century individualist psychologism and, in little recognised ways, the trauma of two world wars. Today it confronts the complexity of international ultra-modernity in ways apparently abandoned by mainstream fiction. Recognising the achievements of crime fiction, this paper will argue that criminographical criticism has not yet developed sufficiently, and will suggest ways in which it can finally respond adequately to this dynamic mode of literature, and so describe fully how the varying politics of crime fiction have policed the modern world.
Emilio Lomonaco (Macquarie University): Sicilianness in the story-telling of Andrea Camilleri.
This paper focuses on the concept of Sicilianness or sicilianità in Italian literature and discusses how different Italian writers – mostly native Sicilians – have represented and expressed this in their work. The term sicilianità defines the cultural essence of the island of Sicily and, contrary to what might be expected in a smallish island, this is not univocal and distinct, rather it is quite heterogeneous. “Sicily, the plural island” as it has been defined, has this distinctive trait which ultimately defines Sicilian identity. This has been shaped by a long history of foreign invasions and dominations which have given Sicily its multicultural imprint. Sicilitudine and sicilianismo are other expressions that have been used in the attempt to further describe the sicilianità but these terms have resulted, depending on different interpretations, in positive or negative connotations of the concept of Sicilianness. With reference to works of different authors such as Luigi Pirandello, Gesualdo Bufalino, Leonardo Sciascia and Andrea Camilleri, the relevance of the use of Sicilian dialect in literature will also be addressed.
Laura Lori (ACIS): Crime fiction in post-imperialistic literature in Italian.
The postcolonial literature in Italian offers the opportunity to challenge the partially distorted vision of the Italian colonial era as it has been disseminated over the years (i.e. ‘Italian good people‘) and to consciously re-think the idea of the Italian identity and the nation’s international role. However, it is not the only literature that enlightens this historical period and interprets its consequences. The literature related to the imperial period, in fact, starts with the actual colonial literature and then, after the independence phase, splits into the post-imperialist literature – written by the authors from the colonizing nation – and the post-colonial literature – by writers of the colonized country.
Both of the Italian segments developed quite recently compared to their European counterparts and it seems that the post-imperialist literature presents a strong inclination to crime fiction, as evidenced by the works of Andrea Camilleri and Carlo Lucarelli, masters of the genre. Starting from their novels (respectively La Presa di Macallé and Il nipote del Negus and L’ottava vibrazione and Albergo Italia), this paper aims to describe the characteristics of crime fiction stories set in the colonies, to analyse the literary outcomes of the encounter between this genre and Italian controversial imperialist and postcolonial history.
Alessandro Macilenti (VUW): The Banality of Gomorra’s Evil.
My analysis focuses on “La terra dei fuochi”, the last chapter of Roberto Saviano’s Gomorra (2006). It explores its narrative strategies under the frameworks of Wu Ming’s “New Italian Epic” and Serenella Iovino’s “material ecocriticism”. The faith in the power of the word that moves Gomorra is the knowledge that literature has to help us imagine ways out. Through creating alternative realities, literature may help us re-imagine what progress means. But how? Gomorra is an “Unidentified Narrative Object” inhabiting the threshold between fiction, journalism, and activism. As such, it hybridises the three genres, utilising narrative mechanisms proper to fiction to enhance the emotional impact of its non-fictional content and to elicit an active response from the reader. Gomorra highlights the role that certain aspects of Italian culture – notably, myopic ultra-individualism, an attitude which is accepted and even praised in legitimate business – play in maintaining the Camorra’s stranglehold on Naples and Italy. Thus, I contend that Gomorra does more than merely inform the public about the Camorra’s misdeeds. By revealing the banality of the Camorra’s evil and the links between the legal and the illegal, Gomorra aims at challenging the reader’s perception of normality.
Brigid Maher (La Trobe): “La dolce vita” meets “the nature of evil”: the positioning and reception of criminal Italy in English translation
I will begin this presentation with an overview of several of the key publishers specializing in foreign, particularly Italian, crime fiction in English translation, exploring the titles they elect to publish and the way these fit into each publisher’s list. I will then undertake a preliminary analysis of a small number of these translations, looking not at the micro level of translation strategies, but rather, more generally, at the texts’ content and the way it might be received in translation. To do this I will focus in particular on paratext – cover images, descriptive blurbs, titles and author bios, and as well as reviews by both critics and general readers. In particular I wish to investigate the way Italian settings – often depicted in great detail in the novels – are, variously, emphasized, (mis)interpreted, marketed, consumed, or ignored as readers and publishers seek to locate a text within a space of familiarity or exoticism, be it with respect to setting or genre. I envisage this as a very small first step in a more detailed and wide-ranging future exploration of Italian crime fiction in translation.
Margie Michael (VUW): A Consideration of Place in The Deliverance of Evil by Roberto Costantini and The Laughterhouse by Paul Cleave.
In July 1982 Italy won the World Cup; in Rome Commissario Michel Balistreri was investigating a murder. Some years later in Christchurch, New Zealand Constable Theodore Tate is at the scene of his first murder. In 2006 Italy wins the World Cup again and Balistreri is reminded of his failure to solve that earlier crime when the mother of the victim throws herself from a balcony. Around the same time, in Christchurch, New Zealand disgraced former Constable Theodore Tate finds himself at the scene of another murder. Both detectives have something to prove, and much to hide, but in order to solve these murders they must be prepared to bare their own pasts to catch the killers.
In this paper I will discuss the sense of place in these two novels set half a world from each other, and show the part that the palpable presence of Rome and Christchurch respectively plays in the plot and the effect the cities have on both the detectives and the killers.
Caro Miranda (VUW): Relocation, Relocation, Relocation: the Negro Absoluto (Absolute Noir) Series and the Argentine hardboiled.
In Argentina, crime fiction does matter. According to Lafforgue, no other genre has so strongly underpinned the system of Argentine literary fiction throughout the twentieth century (1997, p. 1). Amelia Simpson (1990) claims that, with only sporadic local production, the Argentine readership was consistently exposed to foreign detective fiction from the late nineteenth century well into the 1930s. The phenomenon of imported crime fiction is clearly observed in the 1940s when the Séptimo Círculo collection (1944-1983), edited by Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares, transformed the genre in terms of popularity and prestige. Indeed, throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Argentine crime writing bore the indelible marks of a translated and foreign product: imported authors, extraneous settings, foreign historical and cultural realities. Nevertheless, the Argentine crime fiction scene was to change radically from the 1960s onwards.
This paper will explore a number of factors at play in serialization drawing from a striking case of literary experimentation within a new wave of crime writing: the collection called Negro Absoluto (Absolute Noir). Edited by prestigious hardboiled writer Juan Sasturain, it was first published in 2008 (Ediciones Aquilina), has 15 novels to date, and is firmly anchored in the Argentine millennium as contributors are to be national, and crimes to be exclusively set in Buenos Aires. Thus, this collection has become a vehicle for representing a change in local writing epitomising a creative boom observed in the last decade.
Gino Moliterno (ANU): The giallo Down Under: Flavio Mogherini’s La ragazza dal pigiama giallo (1977).
Filmed in both Australia and Italy, Mogherini’s La ragazza dal pigiama giallo could be regarded as the first and only example of an Italian-Australian giallo. Unlike the classic gialli of Bava and Argento, Mogherini’s film was based on a real-life Australian murder mystery known as the Pyjama Girl Case. In the mid-1930s, unable to identify the burnt and battered body of a young woman, the NSW police had publicly exhibited the body for a decade before eliciting a confession from her husband, an Italian migrant named Antonio Agostini. Although Agostini was convicted of the crime and eventually deported, a number of anomalies in the case still lead some historians to doubt that it was really solved.
Just as interesting as the changes that Mogherini’s film operates on the established facts of the case are the conditions and circumstances regarding the actual making of the film, which themselves constitute something of a giallo. What prompted this director of wry, bitter-sweet comedies to embark on a giallo? How did an Italian director come to know about the Pyjama Girl and what specific aspects attracted him to film it? Most curious of all, given the film’s patent stress of its Italian-Australian-ness, why was it never shown in Australia? It is these and other questions surrounding this flawed but intriguing film that I attempt to explore in this paper.
Michele Pedrolo (La Trobe University): Noir genre as political perspective.
This paper explores how the noir genre series by Massimo Carlotto and Marco Videtta (Le Vendicatrici, Einaudi, 2013) addresses individual and collective actions dealing with social injustice and inequities occurring in Italy the last 5 years of political, economic and financial turmoil. The protagonists of the four novels are Ksenia (housewife), Eva (shop owner), Sara (ex-policewoman) and Luz (prostitute), whose destinies intertwine. During their lives all four women have been humiliated, overpowered and oppressed in their various relationships. However, not wanting to remain victims, they unite and enter a cycle of harsh revenge against their persecutors. The women’s retaliation becomes a metaphor for social upheaval against patriarchal, ruthless and violent systems embedded within the political, financial and economic fibre of a society which exploits the masses and colludes with criminality.
Even though the protagonists are not conscious of the political and social weight of their actions, as the series progresses, Carlotto and Videtta imply that a fairer and more hospitable world could exist for these women, for others like them and for all minority groups within contemporary Italian society when they attempt to oppose their oppressors. Nonetheless, the writers allude to the fact that any such uprising against injustice does not offer a solution for permanent social change. A bond between the protagonists grows and becomes a further authorial metaphor for the necessity amongst the exploited and the repressed to rise in solidarity, to share, and to offer one another help and support in order that their new world may remain nurtured and sustainable.
Barbara Pezzotti (University of Auckland): ‘I am just a Policeman’: the Detective in Times of Fascism: the Case of Lucarelli’s and de Giovanni’s Historical Crime Series.
This paper analyses two famous Italian crime series set during Fascism: Carlo Lucarelli’s crime novels featuring Inspector De Luca as the main protagonist and Maurizio de Giovanni’s series with inspector Ricciardi as the police detective. The first series sees the protagonist investigating murders in the Republic of Salò and in post-war Italy. The second series takes place in Naples in the 1930s after the consolidation of Mussolini regime. Lucarelli’s novels challenge the problematic adherence to Fascism of Inspector De Luca (and of the majority of Italians in those times) throughout a series where investigations are continuously hampered by overpowering political forces. By contrast, in spite of expressing an anti-fascist view, de Giovanni’s whodunnit novels end up by providing an edulcorated version of the Ventennio that allows the protagonist to live his role as a policeman without outward contradictions and to easily solve his crimes.
Concentrating in particular on Lucarelli’s Carta bianca (1990, translated as Carte Blanche in 2006) and de Giovanni’s Per mano mia (2011; By My Hand, 2014), I argue that de Giovanni’s series (published twenty years later than Lucarelli’s novels) and, above all, its success among the public are symbolic of a progressive de-ideologisation of Italian society. Indeed, as Clark argues, anti-Fascism, which was very significant in the past and synonymous with ‘public interests’, in the last two decades has lost ground in some strata of the Italian population (529). Ultimately de Giovanni’s series is characterised by what Raffaele Romanelli describes as a “discursive tendency to dissolve all distinctions, often through an appeal to individual experience and to the emotions” (343).
Alistair Rolls (University of Newcastle): Liminal Translation, Translating Liminality and Translatability as Limen: Andrea Camilleri’s The Shape of Water.
Andrea Camilleri’s La forma dell’acqua (1994) is the first of his acclaimed series of Inspector Montalbano novels. Its translation into English in 2002, by the also much acclaimed Stephen Sartarelli, as The Shape of Water allowed readers from around the world to access not only an example of high-quality Italian crime fiction but also an example of crime fiction that is about translation. Sartarelli’s version will not be analyzed here in terms of its translation qualities, since this presenter is quite unable to speak Italian; it will be analyzed, however, and instead, as a vehicle for a will to translation, or translatability, that is always already present in the original text. Our focus here will be on the choice of the liminal space of the beach to mark the liminal edge of this first novel (the limen of the series). The Shape of Water, as an enigmatic title (paratextual puzzle) and philosophical paradox, will be shown to correspond to the text’s wilful vacillation between body (original as exemplary textness) and intentionality (translation as textuality, both re-actualized translated version and virtual otherness or translatability). The ramifications of this (un)marking of liminal territory on the mystery it contains (or fails to contain) will be explored.
While there is some truth in Carlo Vennarucci’s statement as to the excellent translation of Italianness in The Shape of Water (“Stephen Sartarelli does an admirable job in translating Camilleri’s novel from the Italian. While reading The Shape of Water, you always get the sense that this is an Italian mystery about Italian characters and written by a superb Italian author”, November 2003, http://italian-mysteries.com/ACA01.html, accessed 1 July 2014), it seems equally clear that Italianness (versus both Italian otherness and foreignness) is being posited as in translation, both by Camilleri and his translator, which is to say, problematized and decentred. Translation and translatability will be explored here as reflexive stagings of textuality, which in turn focus our readerly attention on the ironic and reflexive ways that Camilleri and his detective negotiate the shape of water.
Caterina Sinibaldi (University of Manchester): The Dark Side of the ‘Giallo’: Crime Fiction in Fascist Propaganda.
This paper examines the complex and often ambiguous relationship between Fascism and crime fiction over the 1930s and early 1940s. This was the period when crime fiction series were proliferating in the Italian market, starting with the famous ‘I Gialli’ by Mondadori (1929). The first part of my presentation will outline the official measures taken by the regime against crime fiction (and, especially, translations), while also looking at the main arguments of the cultural campaign against the foreign ‘giallo’ carried out on newspapers and magazines. By looking at selected documents and newspaper articles, I will expose the tensions and contradictions of the regime’s attitude towards crime fiction. While foreign crime fiction was accused of corrupting readers and of exposing them to alien beliefs and practices (crime, after all, was not a problem in Mussolini’s Italy), Italian authors were also encouraged to write detective novels, in a patriotic attempt to ‘reclaim’ the genre.
The second part of the paper deals with the creation of Fascist detectives, which, especially from the mid-1930s, began to populate Italian crime fiction. I will consider examples from Carlo Brighenti’s L’assassino del campione, where readers are introduced to the Fascist policeman Orazio Grifaci, and Romualdo Natoli’s Il Marchio di Giuda (1941), whose protagonist is the Nazi police officer Welf Schurke. I am interested in showing how the figure of the detective was the result of a complex process of negotiation between the demands of Fascist propaganda, and readers’ expectations, which had been shaped by translations of foreign, mostly Anglo-American crime fiction.
In conclusion, my analysis will point to the broader implications of studying crime fiction during Fascism, by arguing some of the distinctive features of Italian crime fiction (such as the social criticism and the multilingualism of the genre) find their origins in the 1930s.
Rita Wilson (Monash University): Local colour: multi-ethnic crime fiction as transcultural dialogue.
Over the last twenty years, Italian ‘migration literature’ has made significant contributions to the re-definition of the country’s literary and cultural scene. While the initial phase can best be conceptualized as a generic ‘micro-system’ encompassing canonical genres such as (auto)biography and Bildungsroman, more recently, narratives of migration have diversified radically, exhibiting a high degree of linguistic and genre experimentation. The defining feature of some the more successful recent novelists lies in their active engagement with critical social and political issues that concern contemporary Italian society through the vehicle of the crime fiction genre. A case in point is provided by Algerian-born Amara Lakhous, whose three most recent novels Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio (2006), Divorzio all’islamica a viale Marconi (2010) and Contesa per un maialino italianissimo a San Salvario (2013) all use strategies of genre hybridisation (polyphonic migration narratives blended with ‘giallo’ and ‘noir’ structures) to problematise notions of citizenship and cultural identity.
This paper will argue that borrowing the conventions of the giallo/noir enables Lakhous both to provide new insights into shifting constructions of “Italianness”/citizenship in a period characterised by the transition from national to transcultural communities, and to accentuate the continuity of the dialogical relationship between the crime fiction genre and contemporary social reality.