La rabbiaAnger
Pier Paolo Pasolini

Translated from the Italian by Cristina Viti
Edited by Dominic Jaeckle Cristina Viti
Tenement #7 / ISBN: 978-1-8380200-8-8
264pp / 140 x 216mm
Designed and typeset by Traven T. Croves
Published 14th December 2022


La rabbia remains one of Pasolini’s most singular achievements, an all-consuming expression of the restless and relentless fury that defined his work and his thinking. In an age of increasingly one-dimensional political art, this most welcome volume is an urgent reminder of its dizzying possibilities.

            Dennis Lim

Pasolini’s poems thrive with passion and outrage. A 20th century Dante, he grieves at inequity, feels disgusted by corruption, and wails against the evil that people do. Pasolini doesn’t render a coming paradise, but contests hate with love, meanness with generosity, and through the reality of his beautiful poems, suggests the possibility of creating a better world. 

            Lynne Tillman

 In a first-time English language translation 
Cristina Viti to mark the poet’s centenary,
 Tenement Press will publish 
 Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 
 filmic work of prose and verse,

 La rabbia / Anger ...

Why is our life dominated by discontent, by anguish, by the fear of war, by war? In order to answer this question I have written
La rabbia, not following a chronological or perhaps even a logical thread, but only my political reasons and my poetic sense.

            Pier Paolo Pasolini

Written in response to producer Gastone Ferranti’s request for his comments on a set of newsreel items, the poet would respond with a montage of his own. Via the unfolding of a chrysalis of images, in La rabbia (1963), Pasolini’s lens pans over Soviet repression in Hungary; the Cuban revolution; (the utopian object of) space exploration; political imprisonment in Algeria; the liberation of the former European colonies; the election of Pope John XXIII; the prospect of revolution in Africa and the Middle East; in Europe and in Latin America... Here, we’ve a panoply of photorealist intimations of Pasolini’s ‘poetic sense.’ The death of Marilyn Monroe crests as an idea in this tidal pooling of reflections, as the poet’s line lights out for conceptual rhymes and counterpoints.

Pier Paolo Pasolini,
translated by Cristina Viti, ‘Marilyn’

In Viti’s translation, the weave of prose and poetry that forms La rabbia portrays the vitality of Pasolini’s work in its capacity to speak to both the specifics of his contexts, the character of our own present tense, and the ironic fact of a life lived against the gulf of discontent in its myriad forms. Here, we’ve a startling confrontation of a revolutionary struggle in stasis set in lines that crystallise a rallying call against blindness. ‘I’ll not have peace, not ever,’ he writes. A lucid acceptance of the poet’s restlessness, and a marker for Pasolini’s commitment to a solidarity with the oppressed that we find reaffirmed on every page, in La rabbia the poet charts how ‘the powerful world of capital takes an abstract painting as its brash banner’ in this unravelling of ‘crisis in the world.’  

La rabbia is a sequence of poems and commentary by Pier Paolo Pasolini from 1963, made to accompany a documentary of the same name—a departure from the fictionalised studies of Roman poverty that defined his earlier work. Trawling through some 90,000 metres of archive footage, the director gathered a collection of images and footage portraying recent events, including the Hungarian Revolution, the Algerian War, the Korean War and the Suez Crisis. Much of the text of La rabbia / Anger didn’t make the final cut; even so, with music and narration overlaid on frenetic and disturbing scenes, the film sometimes tips into overload. The words are better appreciated on their own and Cristina Viti’s fresh translation captures their grim vitality.

          Mark Glanville, The Times Literary Supplement

Pasolini's comments on the montage of setbacks suffered by Western imperialism during the height of the 1950s to early ’60s cold war reflect both the extent and diversity of its defeats in Korea, Suez, Algeria, Cuba, Congo and Africa as well as in Vietnam and Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement which brought civil war to the streets and campuses of the US itself, and death to its citizens—King, Malcolm X and the Kennedy brothers—all viewed by capitalist US elites as “enemies within.”
[...] He described La Rabbia as “an act of indignation against the unreality of the bourgeois world and its consequent historical irresponsibility—a record of the presence of a world that, unlike the bourgeois world, has a deep grasp of reality.” La Rabbia, Pasolini’s anger, penetrates the untruths still beating in Western capitalism’s dark imperial neoliberal heart. 

            Alistair Findlay, The Morning Star

Pasolini saw what was coming, and saw the poet’s mission as an excoriation of this world to come, that has now arrived. His tremendous energy was not negative. It came from an abounding love of the world. Picturing himself like a hero from ancient days, he struggled mightily, in and against the powers arrayed against life. What he called neocapitalism already came with its own brands of neofascism. Good comrade that he was, he knew the mark of our enemies, and where to direct his rage. Here we find him in a moment when he thought the good fight might still be won. A book to give us courage.

            McKenzie Wark 

‘Today,’ we read in La rabbia, Pasolini’s remarkable set of poems composed in 1962 to accompany his film by that title, ‘only four thousand subscribers have televised moving images in their homes; in a year they will be in the tens of thousands.’ And then the poet corrects the line: ‘No—in their millions. Millions of candidates for the death of the soul.’ Sixty years later, in the age of TikTok and Instagram, those ‘candidates’ may well be in the billions. Indeed, what gives La rabbia its uncanny accuracy is that its vision, however exaggerated and extreme, might well characterise our own moment in history. Not only ‘in my country, my country that’s called Italy’ (Pasolini’s refrain), but all over the world, the ‘noble’ solutions of the late 1940s and ‘50s, with their UN charter, their Marshall Plan, and their call for No More Wars, now seem to have been little more than Band-Aids that left things pretty much as they were. Whether he is dealing with the failed Hungarian Revolution or the Algerian War, or with the ‘new problem [that] breaks out in the world. It is called colour,’ Pasolini sees the real enemy as normality—the normality or qualunquismo that accepts things as they are. In Cristina Viti’s excellent translation, Pasolini’s anger would be devastating, were it not for the proviso that poetry can change consciousness. It is poetry, La rabbia insists, that provides the counterweight to the darkness that surrounds us.

            Marjorie Perloff

 Viti’s translation of Pasolini’s 
 La rabbia / Anger 
 launched at the Italian Institute, 
 London, 16.01.23 ...

            Sui miei stracci sporchi
On my filthy rags
            sulla mia nudità scheletrita
on my skeletal nakedness
            su mia madre zingara
on my mother the gypsy
            su mio padre pecoraio

on my father the herder
            scrivo il tuo nome.
I write your name.

From Pasolini’s Algeria /
photographs of tortured
& abused prisoners

La rabbia is about experiences which both question and answer leave aside. About the coldness of winter for the homeless. About the warmth that the remembering of revolutionary heroes can offer, about the irreconcilability of freedom and hate, about the peasant flair of Pope John XXIII whose eyes smile like a tortoise, about Stalin’s faults which were our own faults, about the devilish temptation of thinking any struggle is over, about the death of Marilyn Monroe and how beauty is all that remains from the stupidity of the past and the savagery of the future, about how Nature and Wealth are the same thing for the possessing classes, about our mothers and their hereditary tears, about the children of children of children, about the injustices that follow even a noble victory, about the little panic in the eyes of Sophia Loren when she watches a fishermen’s hands cutting open an eel…

            John Berger                        

When it comes to Pasolini, I’ve used an acronymic PPP = Passion, Provocation and Prophecy = Pier Paolo Pasolini.
[As acronym, it] speaks to Pasolini’s heritage, whose components I measure all great poems by. He was a passionate poet—that’s a given. He was a provocative poet, in the sense that he wished every poem he wrote would stir and even enflame the senses because he was a love poet rooted in a rage against the fascisms that destroyed love or twisted it so that human beings could make love without love being made—a contradiction that tormented him all his life because it referred not only to homosexual life but to heterosexual life as well. And it was connected to what is perhaps his most important legacy, that he foresaw the age of consumerism as creating a fascism and a decadent hedonism that would become the normality of the future—where what I WANT imprisons one by imprisoning the freedom that’s the consciousness of WHAT IS NECESSARY—and he accurately prophesied therefore the age we now live in.

            Jack Hirschman                  

From Pier Paolo Pasolini’s

What happened in the world, after the war and the post-war years?


That’s right: normality. In the state of normality people don’t look around: everything all around seems ‘normal,’ devoid of the excitement and emotion of the years of emergency. Man tends to be lulled to sleep in his normality, he no longer knows how to reflect upon himself, he loses the habit of judging himself, is no longer able to ask himself who he is.

It is then that a state of emergency must be created artificially: this is the work of poets. Poets, these eternally indignant citizens, these champions of intellectual anger, of philosophical fury.


From Roberto Chiesi’s introduction
to La rabbia / Anger

A hundred pages of elegiac prose and verse, a texture of moving images, photographs and painting reproductions: in the workshop for Anger, Pier Paolo Pasolini experimented for the first time with a form differing from the conventions of traditional film narrative and documentary. In his own words, what he wanted to create was ‘a new cinema genre. To make a poetic and ideological essay with new sequences.’ La rabbia was meant as ‘an act of indignation against the unreality of the bourgeois world and its consequent historical irresponsibility—a record of the presence of a world that, unlike the bourgeois world, has a deep grasp of reality. Reality: a true love of tradition, as only revolution can give.’

When he began work on this project in early autumn, 1962, Pasolini had already directed two films. In Accattone (1961), he had for the first time taken cinema to the forgotten margins of subproletarian life in Rome. In Mamma Roma (1962), the tragic story of a prostitute and her son, he had shown how integration into the petit bourgeois aquarium is barred to the subaltern class. In La ricotta (1963)—shot during work for La rabbia, but finished earlier—the character of a subproletarian man killed by a bout of indigestion while working as an extra on a film set embodies the director’s critique of consumerism and of the materialism holding sway in the film industry.

With La rabbia, he completely changed register.

The project followed a proposal from a producer, Gastone Ferranti, who entrusted Pasolini with archive footage belonging to Mondo libero, a newsreel Ferranti had directed and produced for several years. In an interview with [writer and filmmaker] Maurizio Liverani, Pasolini declared: ‘I watched that material. It was a hideous sight, a series of dreary things, a depressing parade of international qualunquismo, the triumph of the most reactionary banality. But amid all this banality and squalor, now and again there were beautiful images: the smile of an unknown man, two eyes with an expression of joy and sorrow, some interesting sequences full of historical significance. In a black & white which was for the most part visually fascinating.’

From the audiovisual magma of ninety thousand metres of footage, Pasolini selected a series of images from recent history and reportage: images already codified and normalised by the humdrum vulgarity of the commentary, the coarse juxtapositions in the editing and the facile glibness of the soundtrack. He modified the soundtrack and the montage giving them new breath and rhythm, and added other footage and photographs chosen from archives (in Italy, USSR, Czechoslovakia and England), from art books (reproductions of works by Ben Shahn, Renato Guttuso, George Grosz, Jean Fautrier, Giovanni Pontormo, Georges Braque, Jackson Pollock) and from magazines (photographs of Marilyn Monroe). It is interesting to note that the Deposition by Pontormo featuring in black & white in the last part of the film is the same as Pasolini used at that time in a tableau vivant for La ricotta.

That visual fabric was then adapted to a text where passages in verse (read by Giorgio Bassani) were alternated to a prose commentary (read by Renato Guttuso): a register fusing social and political analysis to invective, elegy, and epic, taking the form of a lyrical journal whose dominants are ‘[Pasolini’s] political reasons and [his] poetic feeling.’

This happened at the time of a crucial historical shift, for Italy was rapidly burning through its transformation from an agricultural to an industrialised country: a violent, irreversible social and cultural mutation of which Pasolini, as a poet and a director, was by far the most acute and impassioned witness.

The lyrical and prose text frees the images of a thick crust of hypocrisy, rhetoric, banality and qualunquismo, or sometimes leaves them intact (including the sound of the ‘official voice’) the better to circumscribe them and expose them. By reducing or eliminating the sound of a fragment, isolating the truthfulness of the gaze and  anonymous face of a proletarian man or a worker already integrated in the petit bourgeoisie, or the mask, the body and movements of a man of power, Pasolini extracted the deep, physical reality that the images had captured (perhaps against the operators’ intentions) and that which the original footage had failed to reveal.


Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–1975) was an Italian poet, novelist, journalist, filmmaker, theorist, and dramaturg. First and foremost a poet, he is a major figure in European literature and cinematic arts. Life in Rome during the 1950s furnished the material for his first two novels, Ragazzi di vita (The Ragazzi, 1955) and Una vita violenta (A Violent Life, 1959); works whose brutal reflections of urban poverty in the city were similar in character to the depictions of Rome in his debut film, Accattone (1961). All three works dealt with the lives of thieves, prostitutes, and other denizens of a Roman underworld. Other notable novels and narrative works in translation include the unfinished novel Petrolio (published in English in Ann Goldstein’s translation by Pantheon), a work-in-progress at the time of Pasolini’s death, and La lunga strada di sabbia (The Long Road of Sand), a facsimile of writings towards a travelogue initially published in the magazine Successo. Pasolini published numerous volumes of poetry in his lifetime, including La meglio gioventù (1954); Le ceneri di Gramsci (1957); L'usignolo della chiesa cattolica (1958); La religione del mio tempo (1961); Poesia in forma di rosa (1964); Trasumanar e organizzar (1971); and La nuova gioventù (1975). Works of poetry in English language translation include Norman MacAfee's Poems, an anthology covering the entirety of Pasolini’s ‘official publications’ (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1982); Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Francesca Valente's Roman Poems (City Lights, 1986); Jack Hirschman's anthology, In Danger (City Lights, 2010); and Thomas E. Perterson’s translation of The Divine Mimesis (Contra Mundum, 2014), amongst others. A noted journalist and publisher, Pasolini was also a rare voice in the popular press. In 1955—in collaboration with Francesco Leonetti, Roberto Roversi and others—he edited and oversaw the publication of Officina, a periodical dedicated to new poetry in Italian (which ran for fourteen issues), and contributed a regular column to Vie Nuove from May 1960 to September 1965 (titled Dialoghi con Pasolini, or Pasolini in Dialogue, subsequently published as a collated edition in 1977 as Le belle bandiere or The Beautiful Flags). His literary works informed his cinema, and Pasolini would follow the release of Accattone in ‘61 with such noted features as Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, 1964); Uccellacci e Uccellini (The Hawks and the Sparrows, 1966); Oedipus Rex (1967); Medea (1969); Teorema (Theorem, 1968); and Porcile (Pigsty, 1969); Il Decamerone (The Decameron, 1971); and The Canterbury Tales (1972). Pasolini referred to himself as a ‘Catholic Marxist’ and often used shocking juxtapositions of idea and imagery to expose the vapidity of values in modern society. His friend, the writer Alberto Moravia, considered him "the major Italian poet" of the second half of the 20th century. Pasolini was murdered in 1975.

Cristina Viti is a translator and poet working with Italian, English and French. Her most recent publication was a co-translation of poems by Anna Gréki (The Streets of Algiers and Other Poems, Smokestack Books, 2020), and her translation of Elsa Morante’s The World Saved by Kids and Other Epics (Seagull Books, 2016) was shortlisted for the John Florio Prize. Previous publications include the Selected Works of Dino Campana (Survivors’ Press, 2006), including a full version of the Orphic Songs, and excerpts from Carlo Emilio Gadda’s War & Prison Journals (in No Man’s Land, Serpent’s Tail 2014). Other translations (including Amelia Rosselli, Clemente Rèbora) and/or Viti’s own poetry have been published in various reviews (including Shearsman Magazine, Agenda, The White Review, et cetera). Her Italian version of Orson Welles’ Moby Dick—Rehearsed is in production with the Teatro dell’Elfo in Milan. A translation of Furio Jesi’s essays on literature, myth and revolt (Time & Festivity, Seagull Books 2021) is the subject of one of three video presentations on Jesi commissioned by the Italian Institute in London. Among other projects, forthcoming are translations of a collection by Luigi Di Ruscio—a poet from the Marche who, over forty years, created a prodigious body of work after his daily shifts in a steel factory in Oslo—and Luca Rastello’s The Rain’s Falling Up, a novel exploring the politics and spirit of the Seventies in Italy. Viti currently holds collaborative translation workshops within the Radical Translations project run by the French and Comparative Literature departments of King’s College.


Top Left
‘Manifestação estudantil contra a Ditadura Militar,’
Rio de Janerio, 4 April 1968
(Arquivo Nacional / The Brazilian National Archives) 
Top Right
Pier Paolo Pasolini,
photographed by Domenico Notarangelo, © 1963
Mid Left
Andy Warhol, ‘Hammer and Sickle,’1976 
Skarstedt Gallery, New York / Jeffrey Warhola Collection
Pasolini, photographed at the grave of Antonio Gramsci
Corriere Della Sera, 1970 
Mid Right
Marilyn Monroe, as photographed by Ed Feingersh,
© 1955
Pier Paolo Pasolini at the moviola during the production 
and editorship of La rabbia / Anger, 1962.
© Mario Dondero, 2022
(courtesy of Bridgeman Images)

*       Excerpted from John Berger’s essay,                                                
        ‘The Chorus in Our Heads,’ first published in
        Vertigo, & and collated thereafter
        in Hold Everything Dear (Verso, 2007)
#      Excerpted from an interview between
  Jack Hirschman and Daniela Ciani Forza,
  ‘The Meeting of Two Poets: Hirschman & Pasolini,’
  Oltroceano: Pasolini nelle Americhe, Vol. 10.
  ed. Amandine Bonesso & Rocío Luque (2015)