Guido Bartolini, “Nature versus Nurture: The Conceptualisation of Fascism in Pratolini’s Un eroe del nostro tempo, Moravia’s Il conformista, and Their Critical Reception”

Abstract: Vasco Pratolini’s Un eroe del nostro tempo (1949) and Alberto Moravia’s Il conformista (1959) share an odd similarity: these novels were harshly dismissed by their contemporary critics and represent two of the least successful works of these otherwise widely celebrated writers. Both texts featured a fascist character as main protagonist, a common feature that contributed to their problematic reception. What most critics failed to notice, though, is that through their protagonists, these novels set out an interrelated reflection on the nature of Fascism that contrasts an essentialist interpretation of it with a psycho-sociological one. By relying on both close-readings and the study of postwar critical reception, the article shows the limits of Pratolini’s work, which conceptualises Fascism in accordance to a deviancy trope, and re-interprets Moravia’s novel as a coherent narrative revolving around the theme of implication in Fascist crimes.
Key Words: interpretations of Fascism, deviancy, abnormality, implication, responsibility, cultural memory.