Erica Bellia (University of Cambridge)


Erica Bellia has completed her PhD in Italian at the University of Cambridge in 2021, with a thesis on industrial writing and anticolonial discourse in Italy in the 1950s and 1960s. She has recently been awarded an MHRA Postdoctoral Scholarship in the Modern European Languages and she teaches as an Affiliated Lecturer in Italian at Cambridge. She has published articles and book chapters on Paolo Volponi, Ottiero Ottieri, Luciano Bianciardi, Leonardo Sciascia and on Italian cultural journals in the 1950s and 1960s. She has co-organized with Michele Maiolani the international conference Defining the Italian Neomodernist Novel (University of Cambridge, 19-20 March 2021).

“Una perfetta allegoria”: A (Neo?)Modernist Re-reading of Ennio Flaiano’s Tempo di uccidere and Lalla Romano’s Le Metamorfosi

Ennio Flaiano’s Tempo di uccidere (1947) and Lalla Romano’s Le metamorfosi (1951) represent two powerful examples of diversion from Neo-Realist aesthetics in post-war Italy. With their strongly allegorical and epiphanic prose, their experiments with focalisation, their focus on interiority, their taste for the animal and their more or less audible echoes of wars in the background, these two very different books seem to share a modernist character.

If Tempo di uccidere has been variously read as a colonial (Ruozzi 2012) or postcolonial (Re 2017) novel, and only recently linked to modernism by Pellini 2010 and Lutzoni 2016, Romano’s Le metamorfosi has most often been read a surrealist text, despite its author’s distancing from this label (Romano 1989). Reading these two books together through the category of neo-modernism (Toracca 2018; 2022) allows us to problematise them and unpack the ‘public’, historical and allegorical meaning of these two works, so seemingly focused on the interiority of their differently unreliable narrators.