Tondelli and Morrissey: Separate rooms, Connecting rooms

Giulio Carlo Pantalei

Abstract


Pier Vittorio Tondelli, one of the most significant writers of the European Eighties, was arguably the first interpreter within the Italian literary milieu of Morrissey’s lyrics and imaginary. The artist from Manchester – first with his band, The Smiths, and then as a solo artist – established himself as the most “literary” songwriter in contemporary English culture, becoming a cult author thanks to works which span from the records Meat Is Murder (1985), The Queen Is Dead (1986) and Viva Hate (1988) to the book consecration of his Autobiography (2013), published in the Penguin Classics collection. Tondelli deeply engaged with the melancholy poetics that characterized Morrissey’s lyrics (spleen, Wildean decadentism, a desperate sentimentalism and a distinctive sexual ambiguity), going as far as to insert precise mentions and references from Morrissey’s works in his most famous novels. From Rimini (1985) to the spiritual testament Camere separate (1989), along with the miscellaneous nonfiction anthology Un weekend postmoderno (1990), Tondelli never ceased to dialogue with the British singer as a poetic coeval soulmate within an aesthetic paradigm of both the “artist as a young man” and the homosexual as a “forbidden hero”. Due to his early death, Tondelli never had a chance to meet Morrissey personally and Morrissey probably never read Tondelli’s works. This article seeks to investigate in detail the almost unexplored relationship between two crucial authors of the European Eighties, whose apparently separate rooms become connecting through literature, the search for a homeland, lost and found time.


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