In 1939, the Italian writer Giuseppe Jorio (1902 - 1995) enjoyed great success with his debut novel, La Morte di un Uomo (Death of a Man), but, soon after the war, his career was ruined when he was prosecuted, subjected to five trials in six years, and found guilty of having written an obscene novel, Il Fuoco del Mondo (The Fire of the World). He was the first writer in post-war Italy to receive such a conviction, and the only one to receive a prison sentence.
In An Author on Trial, his son, Luciano Iorio, reveals for the first time how bigoted judges, in alignment with the illiberal and aggressive censorship policies ‘in defence of decency’ adopted by the ruling Christian Democracy party, openly fuelled by the Vatican, were determined to make an example of Giuseppe Jorio - even if that meant to misapply the law.
With the help of family letters and his father’s diaries, Luciano Iorio also tells the dramatic events in his father’s life which inspired the novel. He describes the difficult times in which the novel was written, the enormous strain of the five trials, and their effect on his father’s work, life and family. Particular attention is given to the father-son relationship, which was painfully shaped by the events that took place before and after the novel was written.
The book makes also a strong case for Giuseppe Jorio to be remembered as a valid and unique voice in twentieth-century Italian literature, and not purely as the author of the condemned and never published Il Fuoco del Mondo.