“If you see with innocent eyes, everything is divine.”*

*Federico Fellini (1920-1993)

From: Penelope Fitzgerald – a Life (2013) by Hermione Lee:

“Why did she choose post-war Italy as the setting for her novel (“Innocence”, 1986) about happiness – or unhappiness?…Italy was…a country for which she had strong feelings. Desmond had fought there, and immediately after the war, in April 1949, they had their belated honeymoon in Rome. They published 1950s Italian writing in the World Review, and paid attention to post-war Italian art, film and architecture. She would have seen the neo-realist films like Bicycle Thieves and, later, the 1950s and 1960s movies by Fellini and Antonioni. All this made a strong impression on her. She was especially interested in Moravia’s cold control and strangeness. One Italian novelist they published in the 1950s was Petroni, whose novel The House Moves Fitzgerald called “a tragic masterpiece”…When her old editor, Raleigh Trevelyan, read Innocence, it seemed obvious to him from her “economy of style” that she had been reading the Italian novelists of the period. These writers – Pavese, Moravia, Ginzburg, Sciascia – were fluctuating between realism and experimentalism, localism and europeismo. Pavese had killed himself in 1950 but his posthumous work continued to come out. Pasolini wrote a long elegiac poem for Antonio Gramsci, the Marxist revolutionary leader and philosopher. Such literary styles and experiments infiltrate the mood of Fitzgerald’s novel.”

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