Brian Thol

Brian Tholl (Duke University)

Brian Tholl received his PhD in Italian from Rutgers University, where he wrote a dissertation on representations of confino, or internal exile, in Fascist Italy. His research interests include antifascism, prison literature, biopolitics, Italian film, and dystopia. He recently published an article titled “Italy Must Be Defended: Surveillance and Biopolitics in Una giornata particolare” in the edited volume The Cinema of Ettore Scola, and his article titled “Il mondo è meglio non vederlo che vederlo: Naples as Urban Dystopia in Un paio di occhiali” is forthcoming in The City and Civilization: Representations of Urban Spaces in Italian Culture. He is currently an instructor of Italian at Duke University.


Kairos and Confino: Mythologizing the Resistance

Wu Ming 1’s most recent novel, La macchina del vento (2019) narrates the story of Erminio, a young socialist exiled to confino on the island of Ventotene. The title is a play on H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (La macchina del tempo) and illustrates the complicated relationship between politics, resistance, and temporality. In my paper, I will examine the role of resistance in La macchina del vento and explore the ways in which resistance to the fascist regime on the island of Ventotene is theorized and practiced in the novel. My paper analyzes how, through science-fiction tropes and numerous references to Greek mythology, Wu Ming 1 represents a politics of exile in his work. My paper is especially concerned with how he represents the ways in which spaces of confino become sites of productivity, despite the fascist regime’s attempts to immobilize those sent to confino. I argue that La macchina del vento contributes to the origin myth of the Italian Resistance, depicting it as one that began not in 1943, but well before, and one that centers resistance in confino as crucial to the work to be done following the fall of fascism in Italy and in the aftermath of World War II.