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Pier Vittorio Tondelli: Altri libertini [Other Libertines]

When this book was first released in Italy, it caused a furore, as it showed that Italian youth – in this case the youth of the provincial town of Reggio Emilia – are not clean-cut, God-fearing, well-behaved boys and girls. The book was banned shortly after publication which, of course, meant that it had both critical and commercial success, not only in Italy but also in France and Germany (though it has not been translated into English).

The book consists of six related short stories (Tondelli calls it a novel with episodes). The stories are similar in style and content and concern the youth of Reggio Emilia and what they do for kicks – drugs, alcohol, prostitution, casual sex (homosexual, heterosexual, masturbation), cause a certain amount of trouble. Not only is the book a kick up the arse of the Italian establishment but it establishes a style of writing where the new generation essentially considers the older generation not as the enemy but as irrelevant. The older generation does appear but only as shadows, in passing. There is no conscious 60s-style rebellion, rather just a different way of doing things which has little connection with the ways of the older generation. Indeed, though there are individuals in Tondelli’s stories, the people tend to be seen as a group, as an entire generation. His models are clear – Burroughs and Kerouac from the US, Delfini and Arbasino from Italy. But, as a portrait of an entire national generation detached from its surroundings and from the preceding generation, Tondelli’s stories are an interesting precursor of what is to come later in writing in Italy and elsewhere.

Publishing history

First published 1980 by Feltrinelli
No English translation