Study Guide

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti Introduction

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Filippo Tommaso Marinetti Introduction

As the father of Futurism, Filippo Marinetti cranked out manifestoes faster than production on a Twilight sequel. According to Futurism, the past was dated—it was over, and it was uncool. The first thing any self-respecting Futurist had to do was reject the past—and insult it at every opportunity.

As a Futurist, Marinetti was a lover of all things modern, technological, and dynamic. He celebrated speed, force, revolution, industrial efficiency, and violence. And a big favorite of his was war—noisy, aggressive, masculine war. Whatever it took to shake people out of their comfort zones was good in Marinetti's book. He was a social critic and rabble-rouser extraordinaire.

Marinetti is most famous for writing "The Futurist Manifesto," in which he proclaimed that war was a form of hygiene; that Italy had better pick up the pace and join the modern age; and that feminism, morality, and museums are all really, really bad—especially compared to things like electricity, anarchy, and radical art.

He was also a poet, but he didn't sit around writing about roses and nightingales. Marinetti hammered out very modern, avant-garde poetry—like his sound poem "Zang Tumb Tumb" and other pieces that mimicked the earsplitting blasts and detonations of a battlefield. He loved that war stuff.

Marinetti wrote his poems in French and Italian and included made-up words, collages, lots of different fonts at once, and wacky typography. Forget rhyme schemes and linear expression—his words are outraged, on the move, and often literally swirling around the page. It was not enough for Marinetti's poems to describe energy—they had to shove it in the reader's face, too.

Literary history has not been very kind to this dude. Though he earned cred as a highly experimental poet, avant-garde intellectual, and radical attention-getter, he lost some points for actively supporting Benito Mussolini's fascist regime. People have a hard time getting over the whole Fascism thing.

Love him or hate him, though, it's hard to ignore this guy. So strap on your seatbelts, and let's take off.

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