The function of parody in Carmelo Bene’s rewritings

Dario Russo


Parody is a fundamental tool in Carmelo Bene’s rewritings. This paper investigates the forms of parody used by the author in order to understand their functions. It focuses particularly on the discrepancies between Bene’s love for tragedy and the cruel aggression that he inflicts on this genre. The main tools of my analysis consist in a close study of Bene’s works, with a constant eye on the (sometimes contradictory) purposes of the author’s artistic philosophy, and with specific attention to both the theoretical sources known by Bene and some cornerstones in literary genres studies. The analysis reveals two main functions of parody. First, Bene uses parody in order to neutralize the received ways of enjoyment of a well-known text. In Bene’s intentions, this allows the public who watches the show to establish anew an emotional involvement, which would otherwise be jeopardized due to the audience’s familiarity with the text. Secondly, through the use of parody a new sense of tragedy emerges. Although absent in the original works, this novel tragic condition envisioned by Bene better fits the essence of contemporary man: an individual paralyzed by a feeling of apathy who believes (s)he lives in a senseless world while waiting for an end that never comes.


Carmelo Bene; re-writing; theatre; parody; tragedy

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