Franco Manai (University of Auckland)

This paper focuses on the works of Loriano Macchiavelli, who published his first crime novel, Le piste dell'attentato, in 1974 and has since become one of the most prolific and influential contemporary Italian detective fiction writers. In the 1970s he published another six novels with which he established a niche for himself within the broader picture of the detective novel, both in Italy and internationally. These novels are characterized by a simple, serialized and iterative structure, which Macchiavelli derived from the canon of British and American crime stories and personalized to meet his own expressive and communicative needs. The protagonists are a police sergeant, Sarti Antonio, and his friend Rosas, an anarchist student (later to become a lecturer) who is in fact the brains of the investigating team. The Holmes/Watson duo is inverted: here, the dim role is played by the principal detective while the scientist is given the genius role. However, in contrast to the tradition where the side-kick as narrator mediates between the detective and the reader, in these novels this mediating function is generally shared between three different characters: an intrusive narrator, the side-kick and Sarti Antonio himself. Doyle's Dr. Watson celebrated Holmes' genius while at the same time rendering him comical; by contrast the protagonists of Macchiavelli's enunciation celebrate and make fun of themselves in a game of irony and self-irony, which is both a theme and a narrative procedure. This fundamental contribution to Italian detective fiction is the means through which, in Macchiavelli's stories, the reader is given both a vivid depiction of a well-defined place, namely the city of Bologna, and a strong democratic critique of contemporary Western society.