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Pagetti, Carlo

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Critic.

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(1945-    ) Italian critic, since 1971 Professor of English Literature, first at the University of "G. D'Annunzio", Pescara-Chieti, then in other Italian universities: Siena, Bergamo, Turin, and most recently Milan, where he has taught since 1995, occupying several roles. He coordinated the doctoral program in English studies from its founding until 2005.

His Il senso del futuro: la fantascienza nella letteratura Americana ["The Meaning of the Future: Science Fiction in American Literature"] (1970) is the first serious literary study of the history of sf written by an Italian scholar. In Il senso del futuro Pagetti traced sf origins down through the history of English and American literature, analysing seminal works such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818; rev 1831) and H G Wells's novels, as well as engaging in a broad history of culture and of the relationships between science, literature and public opinion; later authors dealt with include Ray Bradbury, Philip K Dick, Robert Sheckley, Kurt Vonnegut Jr and others.

In the 1970s he published a study of Jonathan Swift, La fortuna di Swift in Italia ["Swift's Fortune in Italy"] (1971) and in Science Fiction Studies published essays on Wells, Dick and Katharine Burdekin, as well as reviews and articles on the development of an Italian criticism of sf and utopia. The 1980s were particularly prolific: he published the monographs I Marziani alla corte della Regina Vittoria ["Martians at Queen Victoria's Court"] (1986), on H G Wells's Scientific Romances, and Cittadini di un assurdo universo ["Citizens of an Absurd Universe"] (coll 1989), with essays on Ambrose Bierce, Burdekin, H P Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain.

A strong interest in Utopian and Dystopian fiction led during the 1980s to the organization of several conferences and working groups, editing several volumes of proceedings, including George Orwell 1984: un romanzo del nostro tempo: atti del convegno di Giulianova ["George Orwell 1984: a Contemporary Novel: Proceedings of the Conference Held in Giulianova"] (anth 1986); Cronache dell'altra terra: Twain, De Mille e la nascita della distopia americana ["Chronicles form the Other Earth: Twain, De Mille and the Birth of American Dystopia"] (anth 1988) with Oriana Palusci; and Nel tempo del sogno: le forme della narrativa fantastica dall'immaginario vittoriano all'utopia contemporanea ["During Dream Time: Structures of Fantastic Narrative from Victorian Imagery to Contemporary Utopia"] (anth 1988).

In 1982 he founded and until 1987 edited the annual critical journal La città e le stelle ["The City and the Stars"], the first Italian publication devoted to sf criticism, and the only one until the coming of Anarres edited by Salvatore Proietti; Pagetti has served on the latter's editorial board since its launch in 2012. La città e le stelle was published by Nord (Milan), one of the biggest Italian publishers specializing in sf at that time; its termination after six issues must be ascribed to Italian academics' and intellectuals' lack of interest in sf at that time.

During the 1990s his critical work included an History of SF, I sogni della scienza: Storia della science fiction ["Science's Dreams: the History of Science Fiction"] (1993), and monographs focusing on the birth of the genre, nineteenth-century precursors and pioneers, Utopian forms and narrative structures; they include Astolfo sulla luna: Utopia e romance ["Astolfo on the moon: utopia and romance"] (1996) and Il diario e il microfono: Il pianeta di George Orwell ["Diary and microphone: the world of George Orwell"] (1994).

From the 2000s on, with an emphasis on English culture and history, he has investigated the assimilation of scientific discoveries both into sf and into other forms of collective imagery and public debate. The reception of Darwin's ideas is central to Il corallo della vita: Charles Darwin e l'immaginario scientifico ["The Coral of Life: Charles Darwin and Scientific Imagery"] (2010). He edited numerous collective volumes related to these themes, such as The Shape of a Culture: Il dibattito sulla cultura inglese dalla rivoluzione industriale al mondo contemporaneo ["The Shape of a Culture: The Debate on English Culture, from the Industrial Revolution to the Contemporary Age"] (2004) with Oriana Palusci, his associate in many projects over the years, and Darwin nel tempo: Modernità letteraria e immaginario scientifico ["Darwin Through the Ages: Literary Modernity and Scientific Imagery"] (2011); and on different aspects of sf and fantastic literature, such as Delicate Monsters: Literary Creatures of Wonder (2007) also with Palusci.

Alongside his critical writing, he edited two Anthologies of fantastic fiction: Nel tempo del sogno ["During Dream Time"] (anth 1988) and La lotta col drago: L'universo fantastico inglese da Beowulf a Tolkien ["The Fight with the Dragon: The Fantastic Universe in English Literature from Beowulf to Tolkien"] (anth 1990). Among many literary works he edited, introduced or annotated, there are Italian translations of many authors who have written sf; those not mentioned above include L Frank Baum, Angela Carter, Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens, Anna Kavan, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Arthur Machen, Bram Stoker, Norman Spinrad, Anthony Trollope and Fay Weldon, among others. From 2000, he has been editing an edition of Philip K Dick's complete works in Italian for the publisher Fanucci (Rome).

Pagetti wrote the entry on Italy in the second edition of this encyclopedia. During the 1960s, in the Italian Galaxy, Oltre Il Cielo, Galassia and Gamma, also using the pseudonyms Carlo Milan and Gian Giacomo Mora, he published several stories, most of them included in Favole di lontananza ["Tales of the Distance"] (coll 1989), which remains his only volume of fiction. [GI/PN]

see also: Critical and Historical Works About SF.

Carlo Pagetti

born Codogno, Italy: 5 October 1945


  • Favole di lontananza ["Tales of the Distance"] (Chieti, Italy: Vecchio faggio, 1989) [coll: binding unknown/]


works as editor


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