Benni, Stefano 1947-

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Benni, Stefano 1947-

PERSONAL:

Born 1947, in Bologna, Italy.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Bologna, Italy. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER:

Journalist, director, and author.

WRITINGS:

Bar Sport (novel), A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1976.

La tribú di Moro Seduto (fiction), A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1977.

Spettacoloso, A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1981.

Prima o poi l'amore arriva, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1981.

Terra!: romanzo (science fiction novel), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1983, translated by Annapaola Cancogni, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 1985.

I meravigliosi animali di Stranalandia, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1984, 3rd edition, 1990.

Comici spaventati guerrieri (romance novel), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1986.

Il ritorno del Benni furioso (humor), Il Manifesto (Rome, Italy), 1986.

Il bar sotto il mare, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1987.

Baol: una tranquilla notte di regime (satire), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1990.

Ballate, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1991.

La compagnia dei celestini, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1992.

L'ultima lacrima, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1994.

Elianto, 2nd edition, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1996.

Bar Sport Duemila (science fiction; sequel to Bar Sport), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1997.

Blues in sedici: ballata della cittá dolente, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1998.

(With Goffredo Fofi) Leggere, scrivere, disobbedire (interviews), Minimum Fax (Rome, Italy), 1999.

Teatro (selected plays; contains La misteriosa scomparsa di W, Sherlock Barman, La signorina Papillon (nel paese dei brutti sogni), La moglie dell'eroe, La topastra, and Astaroth), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1999.

Spiriti (novel), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 2000.

Saltatempo, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 2001.

Dottor Niú: corsivi diabolici per tragedie evitabili, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 2001.

Teatro 2 (selected plays; contains Pinocchia, Le canzoni di Amlieto, Dottor Divago, Il carnevale degli insetti (Melologo), Grimilde, Onehand Jack, Misterioso [Omaggio a Thelonius Monk,] and Il sogno del muratore), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 2003.

Achille piè veloce (novel), [Italy], 2003.

Margherita Dolce Vita (young adult novel), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 2005.

Columnist for Panorama and Il Manifesto.

SIDELIGHTS:

Stefano Benni is a popular Italian author known for his social and political satires. Combining humor with magical realism or science fiction, his works lambaste everything from Italian leadership to the invasion of American technology and culture on his homeland. Novels such as Bar Sport, Terra!: romanzo, Baol: una tranquilla notte di regime, and Elianto demonstrate what Rocco Capozzi described in World Literature Today as examples of the author's "comical even grotesque, bitter satires of contemporary Italian society."

In works such as Spiriti and Margherita Dolce Vita, Benni expresses his distaste for the infusion of modern electronic gadgets and American capitalism and the media. Spiriti spoofs thinly disguised famous figures ranging from Madonna and Ricky Martin to President Bill Clinton and opera singer Luciano Pavarotti in a tale about a mega-concert that is organized to celebrate and support a war that Capozzi explained is "easily recognized as the conflict in Kosovo." Through his satire, Benni shows how people are manipulated to believe the images and messages governments want them to believe. While an Economist writer fretted that the novel "collapse[s] from overkill," Capozzi held that it "reconfirms Benni's passion for writing virulent social satires that we can appreciate because we are all affected by their content."

The more recent Margherita Dolce Vita also is about Benni's distaste for modern, foreign cultures that threaten to wipe out an appreciation of Italy's history and ways of life. The title character of the novel is a fourteen-year-old girl who appreciates and loves her Italian home. When the Del Benes family moves in next door, however, they threaten this lifestyle by introducing her family to electronic gadgets, including a huge plasma television. Margherita decides to fight back by enlisting the help of her super-genius brother and her eccentric grandfather. This "allegorical war …," commented a Publishers Weekly critic, is a "winning romp with nary a false note."

A heavily nostalgic novel by Benni is his 2001 offering, Saltatempo. The title refers to the narrator's amazing ability to jump back and forth through time. He has been given this gift by a magical gnome-like creature, and the talent also allows the boy to see and speak with other gnomes he encounters. Despite this magical premise, the book is more of a meditation on the state of the world and how it is changing, and not necessarily for the better. The main character thinks about his school days, of new friendships and loves, and the later loss of those friends and loves. True to form, Benni does not refrain from political satire as he criticizes leadership in his country, too. The story, overall, is a melancholic piece that "has brilliantly captured the magical and dreamlike process of growing up," according to Capozzi in another World Literature Today article.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Economist, March 14, 1998, review of Bar Sport Duemila, p. S16; September 23, 2000, "Recent Italian Novels—Spirits of Invention," review of Spiriti, p. 103.

Publishers Weekly, August 28, 2006, review of Margherita Dolce Vita, p. 25.

World Literature Today, winter, 2001, Rocco Capozzi, review of Spiriti, p. 161; summer-autumn, 2002, Rocco Capozzi, review of Saltatempo, p. 136.

ONLINE

Stefano Benni Home Page,http://www.stefanobenni.it (November 1, 2006).*

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Benni, Stefano 1947-

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