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This report is taken from PN Review 135, Volume 27 Number 1, September - October 2000.

Attilio Bertolucci Peter Robinson

Attilio Bertolucci was born on 18 November 1911 at San Prospero, a few kilometres to the east of Parma, a village now all but absorbed into the outer suburbs of the city. He was a son of the agrarian middle-class, small landowners cultivating the region's fertile plain. Bertolucci liked to describe his character as manifesting a fruitful conflict between the paternal line, deriving from Apennine hill farmers living over a thousand metres above sea level at Casarola, and his maternal line whose family background was in the 'Bassa parmense', the lowlands towards the river Po. Though he was to write pieces set in Rome and in Liguria, the great majority of his poems are concerned with the seasons, changing light, and culture of his birthplace, Parma - Stendhal's petit capital d'autrefois - and its environs.

Bertolucci's was a precocious talent. He published his first book, Sirio (1929), at the age of eighteen, a volume read and recommended to others by Eugenio Montale. With his second, Fuochi in novembre (1934), he began to reach a wider audience: it was favourably reviewed both by Montale and Alfonso Gatto. As has been noted by scholars, the young Bertolucci's influence on the more established Montale can be heard by comparing the first quatrain of 'Pagina di Diario' with the final three lines of the sixth of the 'Mottetti', written in 1937. The great difference between the two is that while Montale's lyric is part of his sequence making an emblematic figure ...


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