Culture and industry as a project
di Silvia De Laude
The relationship between Industry and Culture goes back a long way in Italy and can characterise the way we see literature, art, cinema, music and so on. In many cases, this relationship took the form of patronage, with tutelary deities behind it whose forward-thinking action is still alive today.
It is difficult to pick someone to focus on from among the many different figures who, either by nature or inspiration, committed their financial and intellectual resources and personal energy to spreading culture.
Remaining in Lombardy, one exemplary case is represented by Prospero Mosé Loria from Mantua, a businessman in the timber industry and founder of the Società Umanitaria in Milan, established with the objective of enhancing workers' skills and their financial situation through education and cooperation in the style of Mazzini.
Some have seen industrial work as "a route to freedom" (Calvino) or as being favourable to social emancipation or the acquisition of a more mature class consciousness (Arpino, in the "Anni del giudizio", or Pratolini, in "Bruno Santini. A novel"). Some have grasped its twofold souls (Ermanno Rea, with "La dismissione", 2002). Others, such as Goffredo Parise, with a clever move in "The Boss" (1964), have described the industrial world from a psychological and metaphysical standpoint, reinventing the genre beyond all neorealist clichés.
However, there are also writers, including some very recent ones, who could suggest a revival of industrial literature – Sebastiano Nata, Carmine Abate, Raffaele Nigro, Erri De Luca, Goffredo Buccini, Laura Pariani, Silvia Avallone, Massimiliano Santarossa, Andrea Valente, and also Alberto Prunetti, "Amianto" (Agenzia X), author of a terrible "working history" that fits into the ideal groove carved out by Bianciardi-Cassola's "Minatori della Maremma"; Angelo Ferracuti, with "Costo della vita" (Einaudi); Francesco Targhetta, who in his recent novel in verse "Perciò veniamo bene nelle fotografie" (isbn) looked back to "The Girl Carla" by Elio Pagliarani (but also had Bernari's "Tre operai" in mind) and has gone on to be a finalist in the Premio Campiello and the Premio Bergamo with his very recent "Le vite potenziali" (Mondadori 2007).
Industry operates on an uncertain market today, but the industrial awareness of art and literature, fostered by scholars who as ever have the virtuous relationship between art and forward-thinking business at heart, has never been lost, but continues to explore forms of communication that paint a picture of a technological research that places Italy among the best in the world in various production sectors. There is naturally still much to be done, especially today, but Italians and their Design are second to none.
Silvia De Laude
A romance philologist by training, writer and literary critic, she has contributed to publishing projects with Cesare Garboli and has edited with Walter Siti the complete works of Pier Paolo Pasolini as part of Mondadori 'Meridiani' collection. In the 'Edizione Nazionale ed Europea delle Opere di Alessandro Manzoni' she edited theessay 'Del romanzo storico e, in genere, de' componimenti misti di storia e d'invenzione', with introduction by Folco Portinari and foreword by Giovanni Macchia, 2000. Her commented edition of Pasolini's posthumously published novel, 'Petrolio', was published as part of the Mondadori Oscar collection in 2005. Her publications include 'Mario Mieli: E adesso', Clichy, Florence 2016. 'I due Pasolini. Ragazzi di vita prima della censura', Carocci, Rome 2018. 'La rondine di Pasolini', Mimesis, Milan 2018. 'L'attualità di Leopardi' in 'Giovani Parole', Bracco Foundation 2019. To be published shortly: 'Fly Traslove Airways', a text on 'Petrolio' by Pasolini and 'Il risveglio dei Faraoni' by Mario Mieli, Saggiatore.