A «Phantasmagoric Portrait» of Bygone Eras: Pasolini in India

Barbara Castaldo


This essay discusses both the advantages and the limits of a post-colonial critical approach to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s travel work, L’odore dell’India. Through a close analysis of the text, Pasolini’s stereotypical interpretation of India emerges, which corresponds to Edward Said’s notion of “Orientalism”, as well as to other important theories of post-colonial studies. Pasolini’s naïve view of India and Indians reveals many similarities with his portraits of peasant cultures, Roman slums and the sub-proletariat, African villages, and even ancient Greek myths. This parallel further suggests the presence of a similar poetic vision behind all representations of “otherness” and of an “other” culture: Pasolini idealistically projects his dream of an innocent (and lost) state of nature onto marginalized, primitive, or non-Western cultures. Critics who only use post-colonial theory for a critical analysis of L’odore dell’India fail to understand Pasolini’s deeply-held, anti-imperialist ideology and his anthropological utopia.


Pier Paolo Pasolini; L’odore dell’India, twentieth-century Italian Literature; Travel Literature; Post-colonial Theory

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/306

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17607

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