Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Emiliano Marra | Independent Researcher | Italy 


September 16th 2022 | 16.30 – 18.15
Panel #4 | “Italian Historical Narratives
Room G.126 | Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milan, Largo Gemelli 1

Comparing Two Italian Alternative History Novels: Asse pigliatutto by Lucio Ceva and Contro-passato prossimo by Guido Morselli

Although there were already some eccentric examples of alternative history genre in the Italian context, the first two novels introducing several common points with the standard topoi of the genre were published in 1970s. Not depending at all from each other, Asse pigliatutto (Lucio Ceva, 1972) and Contro-passato prossimo (Guido Morselli, 1975) are two nexus stories focused on military and political hypotheses about the two World Wars: despite their role of forerunners, the quality of these two novels is still unmatched. This paper will try to compare the two works, highlighting any similarity in their structure, their depth on history rewriting, and also their ability of representing the problematic relationship between fiction and reality, or between rational choices and luck. This critic also concerns the differences between the two works and their focus on the clash between luck and rational choices in the development of historical events. The paper will also try to explain why such early examples were not able to become canonic models for the genre in the Italian context, unlike foreign masterpieces as Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Indeed the whole literary production of Morselli is posthumous and completely isolated from the contemporary fantasy and science fiction literature in Italy, whereas Ceva’s novel was not reprinted after the first edition by Mondadori and only some years before his own death, the author himself cared a second edition.

Emiliano Marra teaches humanities in a junior high school. He graduated in Comparative Literature in Padua and he was awarded a PhD in Italian Studies at University of Trieste in 2015: his final essay was about Italian alternative history tales. In the following years, relating this topic, he published some papers and he also attended some conferences. He is a contributor to the web magazine Pulp Libri
Topics of research: alternative history and dystopic tales in Italian language. His main publications are: Il caso della letteratura ucronica italiana. Ucronia e propaganda nella narrativa italiana, in Between, 2014; La lingua dell’ucronia italiana di ambientazione fascista: alcune note, in Dialoghi Mediterranei, 2017; Le ucronie italiane di estrema destra e la storiografia alternativa, in Atti del XXIII Congresso ADI - Associazione degli Italianisti (Pisa, 12-14 settembre 2019), ADI editore, 2021; Mussolini dans les uchronies italiennes, Éric Vial (trad.), in Les Grandes Figures historiques dans les lettres et les arts, 2022; Mussolini nella letteratura ucronica italiana, in Rivista di Politica 1/2022.