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

  • Barbara Castaldo
Keywords: Pier Paolo Pasolini, L’odore dell’India, twentieth-century Italian Literature, Travel Literature, Post-colonial Theory


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.

Author Biography

Barbara Castaldo

Barbara Castaldo graduated with her first degree from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, then gained her MA at Columbia University, followed by her PhD at New York University. She is specialized in contemporary Italian literature with her doctoral thesis on Italian author, Pier Paolo Pasolini (for which she was awarded the Premio Pasolini in 2009). Her research interests include the study of law and literature and travel literature. Castaldo has published articles on contemporary Italian authors (Sandro Veronesi, Marco Lodoli, and Pasolini), and she currently teaches Italian literature and culture at various American colleges in Rome.


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How to Cite
Castaldo, B. (2011). A «Phantasmagoric Portrait» of Bygone Eras: Pasolini in India. Between, 1(2). https://doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/306