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literature

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Coccioli, Carlo (1920-2003)  
 
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The history of Fabrizio and Laurent is given more or less chronologically in the outer novel up to the point where Coccioli inserts the entire text of what he refers to as Fabrizio's "journal-novel," which consists of pages of Fabrizio's reminiscences of his relationship with Laurent interspersed with episodes of a strange and dream-like tale of a beautiful adolescent Child and his bizarre and yet moving encounters in a surreal world.

Fabrizio's novel elevates Coccioli's book into the realm of literature. There are harrowing pages written by Fabrizio in which he appears to have gone mad and obsesses on death and decay. The Child's story is sometimes bewildering; at times it seems to have no narrative direction at all. But gradually, the characters in the journal-novel begin to reflect less and less obscurely the events in the lives of Fabrizio and Laurent, even though there is never a one-to-one correspondence between the two lovers and any of the stylized characters in Fabrizio's novel.

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At one point, the journal-novel even becomes, perhaps, a bit didactic. And yet the novel-within-a-novel also evokes a convincing mythic dimension to the lovers' struggles. In the end, Coccioli's book is saved by its originality, the brilliance of the writing, the richness of his imagination, and its historical importance as a landmark gay novel.

Fabrizio Lupo had such an effect on the public that Coccioli said he received over 10,000 letters from readers, many of them from unhappy gay men and a number of them from men who were planning suicide.

Some readers saw only tragedy in the book. Others, however, found the novel hopeful.

One French reader wrote: "I have just finished reading your novel Fabrizio Lupo and I need to write you to tell you what admiration I have for your talent and especially for your courage in having dared to write this book. . . . I'm but an unknown reader and perhaps you will care little for my opinion, but something drives me to tell you how touched and moved I was by the story of Fabrizio Lupo. This book will remain near me on my bedside, like a bible that one opens randomly in moments of sadness and discouragement, and that one recloses, comforted, calmed, after having read several pages. . . . . I would like to have your talent for finding the words that would transmit all my gratitude--since I cannot do it in person--but I can only tell you, in my name and in the name of all the others, of all my isolated brothers: from the bottom of my heart, thank you."

Fabrizio Lupo probably drew on Coccioli's love for his war-time friend, Alberto. It was also fed by his relationship with a man named Michel, whom he met in 1950. Like Fabrizio and Laurent, Carlo and Michel met in Paris, Michel visited Carlo in Florence, the pair went on a vacation to an island, and subsequently both returned to Paris. Their relationship, however, did not end with the events in the novel. In Michel's company, he traveled first to Canada for a brief stay, and then to Mexico, where the affair finally ended in 1954.

The resulting crisis and depression eventually led to Coccioli's break with Catholicism. In the following years he explored several other religions, including Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, and finally ended by speculating that the next step in the evolution of human faith might be in the hands of physicists.

Later Life and Career

After the breakup with Michel, Coccioli settled in Mexico, learned Spanish, and began to write articles for periodicals in that language. Most of his work was still written first in Italian or French, but after 1973 he began composing books in Spanish, as well. For the rest of his life, the first thing he did after deciding on a book project was choose the language in which to write.

The subject of homosexuality appeared in his work throughout his career, but it never dominated another book as it did Fabrizio Lupo. He disclaimed being a gay writer, and said late in life that "the drama of homosexuality or whatever it is, was not and is not the dominant color of my flag, of my literature."

Except for a brief period when he settled in Texas, first in Laredo, then in San Antonio, Coccioli lived and worked in Mexico with his partner, Juanito, and his adopted son, Javier, turning out newspaper columns, books on a wide array of subjects such as religion, the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, his beloved dogs, Buddhism, the history of Mexico, Alcoholics Anonymous, and the 1966 Florence floods, as well as a stream of novels, including La Ville et le Sang (1955; Daughter of the Town); Manuel le Mexicain (1956; Manuel the Mexican), Le Caillou Blanc (1958; The White Stone), Le Corde dell'Arpa (1967), Mémoires du Roi David (1976), and Le Case del Lago (1980).

Coccioli died peacefully in Mexico City, having refused the last rites of the Catholic church, on August 5, 2003.

Richard Workman

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literature >> Overview:  French Literature: Nineteenth Century

In the nineteenth century gay and lesbian sexuality becomes a significant subject in French literature.

literature >> Overview:  Italian Literature

Until quite recently, male homosexuality has had a discontinuous, fragmented, and largely condemnatory history in Italian literature, and lesbianism has been almost totally ignored.

literature >> Overview:  Novel: Gay Male

Since World War II, the gay male novel has progressively flourished in England and especially in America.

social sciences >> Overview:  Roman Catholicism

Historically, the Roman Catholic Church may be the institution most responsible for the suffering of individuals involved in same-sex sexual relationships.

literature >> Overview:  Spanish Literature

Treating homosexuality in Spanish literature is largely a twentieth-century phenomenon, occurring most frequently in the post-Franco decades.


    Bibliography
   

"Carlo Coccioli." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2002.

Carlo Coccioli Website (2008): http://www.carlococcioli.com.

Carlo Coccioli Papers. Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin: http://research.hrc.utexas.edu:8080/hrcxtf/view?docId=ead/00258.xml. [In addition to the papers described in this finding aid, the Ransom Center also holds several boxes of uncatalogued papers, including the text of a speech in Spanish but titled in English, "Experiences of a Trilingual Writer about Literary Vocation, Books, Love, Animals, and God," given by Coccioli at the University of Texas October 24, 1990, from which much of this entry is derived.]

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Workman, Richard  
    Entry Title: Coccioli, Carlo  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2008  
    Date Last Updated September 12, 2008  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/coccioli_c.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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