Bellezza, Dario 1944-1995
BELLEZZA, Dario 1944-1995
PERSONAL: Born September 5, 1944, in Rome, Italy; died of an AIDS-related disease, March 31, 1995, in Rome, Italy.
CAREER: Novelist and poet. Worked as secretary for Pier Paolo Pasolini.
L'Innocenza (novel; title means "Innocence"), De Donato (Bari, Italy), 1970.
Invettive e licenze (poetry; title means "Invectives and Lasciviousness"), Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1971.
Lettere de Sodoma (novel), Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1972.
Il carnefice (novel; title means "The Executioner"), Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1973.
Morte segreta (poetry; title means "Secret Death"), Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1976.
Angelo (novel), Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1979.
Morte di Pasolini (biography; title means "Pasolini's Death"), Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1981.
Libro d'amore (poetry; title means "Book of Love"), Guanda (Milan, Italy), 1982.
Storia de Nino, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1982.
Io (poetry), Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1983.
Turbamento (novel), Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1984.
Colesso: Apolegia de teatro (poetry and drama; title means "Colosseum: Apologia for the Theatre"), Pellicanolibri (Catania, Italy), 1985.
Piccolo canzoniere per E. M. (poetry; title means "Little Songbook for E. M."), Giano (Rome, Italy), 1986.
L'amore felice, Rusconi (Milan, Italy), 1986.
Serpenta (poetry; title means "Serpents"), Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1987.
Libro di poesia (title means "Book of Poetry"), Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1990.
Contributor to periodicals, including Bimestre, Carte Segrete, Paragone, Paese Sera, and Nuovi argomenti.
Work represented in translation in anthology Italian Poetry Today: Currents and Trends, edited by Ruth Feldman and Brian Swann, New Rivers (New York, NY), 1979.
SIDELIGHTS: Dario Bellezza was an Italian writer known for various poetry collections and novels reflecting his homosexuality. He first came to prominence in the mid-1960s as a contributor to the periodical Nuovi argomenti, where he proved himself to be what a Times Literary Supplement critic called "a very young and very daring poet who unashamedly describes his homosexual exploits." Bellezza's first published book, L'Innocenza, is a novel in which a young man comes to realize his homosexuality. The protagonist, Nino, is a teenaged orphan who finds himself alone in Rome. He eventually obtains shelter at a monastery, where the friars initiate him in homosexual practices, after which he returns to Rome and supports himself as a prostitute before reuniting with his long-lost relatives, who have been living in an asylum for the insane. A Times Literary Supplement reviewer summarized L'Innocenza as "a very promising first novel," and a Booklist reviewer described it as "gripping."
Bellezza followed L'Innocenza with his first poetry collection, Invettive e licenze, which was notable for its frank, uncluttered verse. In the book, Bellezza uses homosexuality as a platform from which he examines subjects ranging from masturbation and incest to spirituality and friendship. Corrado Federici, writing in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, contended that Bellezza "transcends the parameters of his homosexuality by focusing on sentiments that pertain to relationships in general," and proclaimed Invettive e licenze "one of the most piercing expressions of spiritual affliction and personal isolation in the modern Italian lyric." A Times Literary Supplement reviewer affirmed that Bellezza "uses the living language of ordinary people to describe the most painful and tragic situations . . . , but always without compromise or conformity."
In the novel Il carnefice, Bellezza presents a chaotic environment described by a Times Literary Supplement reviewer as "the city within a city that is drug-ridden, homosexual Rome." The reviewer, who noted that the novel's title refers to "a butcher in the sense of executioner, torturer," explained that the book deals with Rome's "torturers and tortured, its saints and its damned." A subsquent novel, Angelo, concerns the relationship between two emotionally troubled individuals, a man and a woman. A Booklist critic deemed this tale "highly interesting." Another novel, Turbamento, relates the sexual exploits of a woman who fails as a poet and then begins operating a brothel that caters to both sexes. Peter Hainsworth, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, stated that Turbamento "confronts large issues."
While producing such novels as Il carnefice, Angelo, and Turbamento, Bellezza also continued to generate poetry. Morte segreta constitutes what Federici, writing in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, called Bellezza's "furious, rage-filled analysis of himself." Federici added that the various poems "are mostly laments of unsuccessful relationships," and he described Morte segreta as "a dirge over misplaced opportunities for ennobling encounters." In another collection, Libro d'amore, Bellezza expresses what Federici called "a profound regard for his countrymen," while in Io the poet considers what Federici acknowledged as "his loss of desire to pursue the dream of innocence." Other collections include Serpenta, a relatively reserved volume that Federici consequently rated as Bellezza's "most impressive product," and Libro di poesia, a more typically explicit and self-lacerating volume that Peter Hainsworth, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, regarded as "either . . . a parody of poetry or its ultimate book."
In addition to writing fiction and poetry, Bellezza published Morte di Pasolini, an account of the controversial writer and filmmaker who was killed in 1975. N. S. Thompson, in a Times Literary Supplement review, acknowledged Bellezza as "Pasolini's one-time literary secretary and friend" and summarized Morte di Pasolini as "a very convincing portrait."
Bellezza died in 1996 after contracting an AIDS-related illness.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 128: Twentieth-Century Italian Poets, Second Series, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1993.
Booklist, February 1, 1974, review of L'Innocenza, p. 574; June 15, 1980, review of Angelo, p. 1499.
Times Literary Supplement, December 18, 1970, review of L'Innocenza, p. 1483; February 11, 1972, review of Invettive e licenze, p. 146; December 7, 1973, review of Il carnefice, p. 1512; October 8, 1982, N. S. Thompson, "Poet into Man," p. 1105; May 11, 1984, Isabel Quigley, "Scarf-Love," p. 529; October 4, 1991, Peter Hainsworth, "Montale and After," p. 32.
Times (London, England), April 13, 1996, p. 23.*