Il coraggio di essere se stessi: for the love of art, education, and freedom

Segmento caught up with Maria Laura Chiaretti, author of "Il coraggio di essere se stessi", a new book exploring Pier Paolo Pasolini’s life through the lens of pedagogy.

Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–1975) is considered one of the greatest Italian intellectuals of the 20th century. He published around 25 anthologies of poems and 15 novels, produced close to 30 screenplays, directed 15 theater pieces, directed 13 films, and wrote countless essays. Less well-known is Pasolini’s interest in pedagogy. “When Pasolini was assassinated, a copy of Nietzche’s book On the Future of our Educational Institutions was found on the back seat of his car, evidencing the importance he placed on pedagogy throughout his life,” explains Maria Laura Chiaretti, author of a new book on the life of Pasolini, published by Armando Editore. Her debut book is a detailed and comprehensive study, the fruit of a mind that is “in love with rebellious thought, critical poetry, and political engagement,” as celebrated poet Dacia Mariani describes in the preface. According to Maria Laura, all of Pasolini’s artistic and literary endeavors responded to a higher calling - educating future generations as the only way to envision a better future.

“They teach you not to shine, but you shine nevertheless, wrote Pasolini to his imaginary student Genariello in his unfinished treatise on pedagogy. I experienced the same thing with this book. I persevered in the face of those who rejected my ideas,” explains Maria Laura, who published this impressive biography of the Italian intellectual giant at only 26. 

Il coraggio di essere se stessi

Smiling, she went on to say:

This famous quote by Pasolini best represents his passion for teaching, his love for humanity, and his admonitions of institutions that put children into boxes and punish them for dreaming. Following this advice, I contacted Dacia Mariani, Pasolini’s last living personal contact. She knew him personally as a friend and worked with him. I never dreamt she would bother to read my manuscript, but she did and liked it, so the gamble paid off.

The value of this book for contemporary readers is that it reflects on the importance of diversity in education. 

What can difference teach us? Everything! In encountering the Other, we come to understand ourselves. Pasolini also taught the value of defeat and resistance in the face of adversity. Pasolini as a teacher is perhaps the least known facet of the Italian intellectual most famous for his poems and films. But poetry and cinema were essentially educational instruments for Pasolini. His films are unfiltered; they are democratic interventions aimed at raising consciousness and encouraging divergent thinking.


Pier Paolo Pasolini

Il coraggio di essere se stessi
highlights Pasolini’s ability to bridge different artistic mediums, “high” culture and popular culture, standard Italian and the dialects, the past and the future. “Pasolini transfixes your soul,” says the young author whose debut book has already merited a special mention in the 14th edition of the Grottamare Literary Competition. 

Pasolini’s themes are topical and universal. His works often portray poverty, inequality, and social injustice. His ideas provoke the audiences to question the status quo and challenge authority, inspiring people in Italy and worldwide. “Perhaps he is even more appreciated abroad than in Italy,” continues Maria Laura, whose book is already appearing on the shelves of university libraries in the United States. This first book has been an incredible success for the young writer who now works as a primary school teacher imparting a passion for poetry and the values of Pasolini to youngsters.

Maria Laura Chiaretti with her book, "Il coraggio di essere se stessi"

Images provided by Maria Laura Chiaretti