Il sogno di una cosa was Pasolini’s first novel. He wrote it during the brief spell that he was active for the Friulian division of the Partito Comunista Italiano, which ended in 1949 when the party expelled him for “immoral behaviour”. But the text was not published until 1962 when Pasolini lived in Rome. At that time he had already made his name with the novels Ragazzi Di vita and Una vita violente, and with the films Accatone and Mamma Roma.
Just like these city tales Il sogno di una cosa is set in the lower layers of society, in this case the poor country communities of Friuli, in the northeast of Italy. Against the background of the economical chaos after World War II Pasolini sketches the struggle for survival, the vitality, and the solidarity of the Friulian day labourers and peasants. Each in his own way the main characters, the young friends Nini, Milio, and Eligio, rebel against their desperate situation. Their native region may be depicted lovingly and with an eye for detail, it offers no perspective at all. Pasolini’s Friuli is a desert in which only dreams can grow. Dreams which, according to the Marxian motto* of this book, manifest themselves in every political and religious awareness, and, after closer analysis, appear to be inherent to this world.
*) Karl Marx in a letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843:
Our motto, therefore, must be: reform of the consciousness, not through dogmas but through analysis of the mystical consciousness that is unclear to itself, whether it occurs in religion or politics. It will turn out then that the world has long been dreaming of a thing …