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  • Publication
    Labour and Factory Utopias: Olivettian Writers and Testimonial Intent
    (University College Dublin. School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, 2022) ;
    The aim of this research is to posit the existence of a link between visions of factory utopia and Italian industrial literature in Italy during the twentieth century, and to suggest the presence of a testimonial intent behind these works. The writers I study have come to be defined as ‘Olivettian writers’, given their proximity to Adriano Olivetti, an entrepreneur from Ivrea, in Northern Italy, who was active during the first half of the twentieth century. Olivetti surrounded himself with writers and poets such as Ottiero Ottieri, Paolo Volponi, Libero Bigiaretti and Giancarlo Buzzi, and these authors worked alongside him in the advertising office and in the Human Resources departments of Olivetti Inc. in both the factories in Ivrea and Pozzuoli (Naples). My purpose here is to answer three questions: first, whether there is a relationship between labour and visions of utopia in Italian industrial literature; secondly, why the topic of factory life was explored by the authors who worked alongside the Italian entrepreneur Adriano Olivetti and to what extent these authors agreed with Olivetti’s vision? Finally, I examine whether there is a testimonial intent behind Italian industrial novels. In answering these questions, the thesis engages with ideas of utopian working conditions, socialism, and factory life. To do so, I will consider Marx’s theory of alienation since the condition of alienation is one of the main reasons for Adriano Olivetti’s alternative vision of utopia, although he also acknowledges the limits of Marx’s analysis. Then, after introducing the literary authors who surrounded Olivetti and their own reception of the entrepreneur’s utopia, I will analyse three novels written by Olivetti’s authors in detail: Donnarumma all’assalto by Ottiero Ottieri (1959), Memoriale (1962) and Le mosche del capitale (1989) by Paolo Volponi. I mainly utilise a narratological methodology, drawing on the work of Roland Barthes, Gérard Genette, Mieke Bal. I also draw on Mikhail Bakhtin’s analyses of narrative discourse and Michel Foucault’s studies on disciplinary power, while acknowledging, when necessary, links and connections with structuralist theory. The novelty of my perspective lies in the narratological analysis of these works, in taking into consideration their paratexts – which have often been overlooked, and especially in relation to discussions of industrial literature as a genre – and in interrogating the possibility of the presence of a testimonial intent in these novels. Given the centrality of the topic of labour, I refer to Marxist criticism and, in particular, I consider I quaderni dal carcere by Antonio Gramsci, since Gramsci has been fundamental in establishing Marxist criticism in Italy. Finally, since a clear definition of Italian industrial literature is still under debate, I will demonstrate how the testimonial intent behind these novels is fundamental to a full characterisation of that part of Italian literature concerned with factories and workers’ alienation.