Anger as Misshapen Fear: Fascism, Literature, and the Emotional Body

In: Emotions: History, Culture, Society
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  • 1 Queen Mary University, London


The article analyses two literary texts by the Italian writer Carlo Emilio Gadda: the anti-fascist satire Eros e Priapo, written between 1944 and 1945; and the novel Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana, first published in 1946. The deformed descriptions of the human figure in these texts are contextualised alongside a collection of anti-fascist caricatures from the same period, Enrico Gianeri’s Il Cesare di cartapesta (1945), and read as emotional symptoms of ongoing social conflicts. In fascist Italy, the representation of the body becomes the battlefield where a few resisting emotional communities contrast the strict management of public sentiment performed by the regime. In this context, deformations of the image of Mussolini and fascist society can be interpreted as performances of anger that deconstruct the official emotional regime and reveal the regime of fear on which fascism built its power.

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