Secret Wounds:The Bodies of Fascism in Giorgio Bassani’s Dietro la porta

  • Derek Duncan
Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)


One of the oddest and most striking features of the ways in which fascism has been represented in the postwar period has been through its persistent association with homosexuality.1 One of the earliest instances of this occurs in Roberto Rossellini’s classic film, Roma città aperta (1945). This celebration of the Italian resistance under German occupation depends on a bold distinction that conflates ethics and sexuality. The political rectitude of the partisans is indexed by their heteronormativity while the evil Germans are predictably homosexual.2 This scenario is quite typical of many areas of cultural production in Italy after World War II, in which representations of the fascist period very often were filtered or understood through some kind of synthetic relationship to homosexuality. The inescapability of homosexual characters in novels set during the regime by such major antifascist writers of the 1940s and 1950s as Pavese, Bassani, Moravia, Morante, and Pratolini belies the commonly held belief that until very recently homosexuality in Italy was unmentionable. Films made in the 1960s and 1970s that intensified and made ever more graphic the link between fascism and deviant sexuality extend this cultural narrative.3


Jewish Community Male Body Heterosexual Masculinity Deviant Sexuality Cultural Narrative 
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© Gary P. Cestaro 2004

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  • Derek Duncan

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