Cronaca, narrativa, and the unstable foundations of the Institution of Neorealism
Leavitt, C. L. (2013) Cronaca, narrativa, and the unstable foundations of the Institution of Neorealism. Italian Culture, 31 (1). pp. 28-46. ISSN 0161-4622
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1179/0161462212Z.00000000014
The author contends that many of the conventions of Italian film studies derive from the conflicts and the critical vocabulary that shaped the Italian reception of neorealism in the first decade after the Second World War. Those conflicts, and that critical vocabulary, which lie at the foundation of what has been called the ‘institution of neorealism,’ established an irreconcilable binary: Cronaca and Narrativa. For the neorealists and their critics, Cronaca stood for the effort to record data faithfully, while Narrativa represented the effort to employ the shaping force of human invention in the representation of information. This essay’s first section analyzes the earliest reviews of Rossellini’s Roma città aperta alongside the contemporaneous literary debates over Cronaca and Narrativa. The second section reconsiders the reception of Pratolini’s Metello and Visconti’s Senso, which similarly centered upon the conflict between Cronaca and Narrativa. The third section proposes that the concepts which have often been employed to unify neorealism are destabilized by the Cronaca/Narrativa binary. In search of a solution to neorealism’s conceptual instability, this essay proposes more critical and purposeful appropriations of the movement’s problematic genealogy.