Stories From the City of God collects legendary filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini’s short fiction and nonfiction from 1950 to 1966. In these pieces, we see the machinations of the creative mind in consideration of the character of Rome after World War II.
Presenting a portrait of the city that is at once poignant and intimate, as honest as if it were the author’s journal, we find here artistic witness to the customs, dialect, squalor, and beauty of the ancient imperial capital that has succumbed to modern warfare, marginalization, and mass culture.
The sketches portray the impoverished masses that he calls “the sub-proletariat”, those who live under Third World conditions and for whom simple pleasures, such as a blue sweater in a storefront window, are completely out of reach. In the chronicles, Pasolini faithfully renders life in Rome in the infinite stretches of public housing on the periphery of the city.
Pasolini’s art develops throughout the works collected here, from his early lyricism to tragicomic outlines for screenplays, and finally to the maturation of his Neo-realism in eight chronicles on the shantytowns of Rome. The pieces in this collection were all published in Italian journals and newspapapers, and then later edited by Walter Siti in the original Italian edition. Marina Harss of The New Yorker has translated the work for its first publication in English by Other Press.