Massimo Fagioli’s thought and his deep relationship with poetry


This report is a first attempt to illustrate Massimo Fagioli’s thoughts on poetry, and how important and innovative his ideas were in the context of modern culture. This report focuses, in particular, on how his thought developed over time, starting from the two propositions that appeared in Istinto di morte e conoscenza(Death instinct and knowledge), referring to the book’s opening quote from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and that at the end from Pirandello’s The Mountain Giants.

Giving an exhaustive overview of Fagioli’s thought in relation to current culture in a short time-frame is probably an impossible task, considering the large number of publications he produced on the theme of poetry and aesthetics, hence the attempt is made to briefly outline the story, which is both artistic and scientific, as well as fascinating and revolutionary in its field. The way of thinking about art and poetry in the twentieth century was naturally a successor to the thinking of the previous centuries. However, it is possible to broadly outline three, possible, theoretical influences that characterized it from the beginning – Benedetto Croce’s aesthetics, Marxist culture and the spread of Freudian psychoanalysis (however, it will also be necessary to investigate the possible contribution from Existentialism).

In a nutshell, “Crocian aesthetics” identifies poetic and artistic creation with intuition belonging to the spirit. Intuition is a faculty of the poet’s soul and, thanks to this, the content of the poetry created acquires universal value that can be grasped by the reader. Croce condemns those who try to attribute irrational origins to poetry, since that would devalue it as being a potential source of disorder and unreliability – for Croce, philosophy itself is a rational affirmation of the spirit.

Marxist culture is characterized by the two concepts of structure and superstructure. The first is the economy, that is, the productive forces together with productive relationships dependent on property. The second is the ideology to which, besides philosophy, politics, ethics, art and so on, poetry also belongs. It is a well-known materialistic vision of the human-being being focused on economic relationships, and it is a vision that inevitably has an impact on the relationship between art and the human being, transforming it into realistic, natural vision.

With the proposed concept of the unconscious, in some way, Freudian psychoanalysis manages over time to replace the spirit, in common understanding, with the idea of the unconscious [1]. It is not uncommon to hear or read in the media about the proposed link between artistic creation and the unconscious. Naturally, the contradiction remains, because of which the insoluble aporia in trying to reconcile the perverse origin of the Freudian unconscious and the idea of fantasy remains, [2] compromising both the value and the main concept of beauty of art and poetry.

Istinto di morte e conoscenza is entirely centred on the origin of the human psyche, on its dynamics and its fundamental aspects. It never deals with poetry and neither do the other two books which are essential for new psychic theory, namely La marionetta e il burattino and Teoria della nascita e castrazione umana. However, as stated, the volume presents the two splendid poetic propositions mentioned. The main stages of the relationship between Fagioli and art were well-presented at the last Open day, which was held on 27th April, 2022 by the “Arte e Linguaggi” laboratory. As described there, a first poetic proposition are poems by M F exhibited in 1981 in the new headquarters of Analisi collettiva (Collective Analysis). Lines dedicated to writing will follow in the introduction to the fourth book Se avessi disegnato una donna, 1996, and also in that year the conference in Naples for the 25th year of Istinto di morte e conoscenza would follow. A beginning of a structured discourse on poetry began with the lessons in Chieti [3] and took place, with a few pauses, throughout those years. Among the various propositions, the distinction was made between conceptual, verbal thought and that of the poet, that is made up of images that are not dream-like images, but are still language. The idea of the sound of poetry was also introduced. The most complete development of Fagioli’s thought on poetry took place in his column “Trasformazione”, which he wrote for the weekly publication Left, from 2006 until 2017. As for other expressions of art, with regard to creativity in general, Fagioli used the concept of re-creation, which he distinguished from regression. This was the fantasy of disappearance that allowed transformation leading to the re-creation of the first moments of life – “And immediately I thought that, in the solitude of the writer there was, invisible, the fantasy of disappearance from the world, as if it were re-created, in the silence of wakefulness, like birth without crying. ” Here, the difference between sense and meaning in the words of the poet and in relation to their sound is better explored and, although it is not said explicitly, it is understood that it does not correspond to the musicality of the poetry that critics have so often mentioned. Sound would be part of the splendid 21 words produced in 2016 and, in the pages written for Left, there there would be much more. Here only a hint at the conceptual differences between current culture and what was ideated and developed by Massimo Fagioli is offered; in the report, attempts will be made to highlight not only the differences and the theoretical consequences, but also to examine both his splendid poetry (as demonstrated by the posthumous book Poesia) and his other writing from a poetic viewpoint, scientifically.


  1. It cannot be excluded in the opinion of the writer that speaking of art, the reference to its origin from unconscious reality, should also be attributed to the same fifty years of Instinct and to the forty-year practice of Collective Analysis held by M.F.
  2. See Bambino donna e trasformazione dell’uomo, answer to question 25.
  3. The lessons in which the theme of poetry and the poet is addressed are: April 4, 2003; 9 and 16 April 2005; April 29, 2006; May 13, 2006; April 28 and May 19, 2007; May 23, 2009; May 21, 2011.
  4. See Left 2010, p. 64



  • Fagioli, Massimo. (2017). Istinto di morte e conoscenza. Roma: L’Asino d’Oro.
  • Fagioli, Massimo. (2008). La marionetta e il burattino. Roma: L’Asino d’Oro.
  • Fagioli, Massimo. (2012). Teoria della nascita e castrazione umana. Roma: L’Asino d’Oro.
  • Fagioli, Massimo. (2013). Bambino donna e la trasformazione dell’uomo. Roma: L’Asino d’Oro.
  • Fagioli, Massimo. (2003). Das Umbewusste. Roma: L’asino d’oro.
  • Fagioli, Massimo. (2005). L’uomo nel cortile. Roma: L’asino d’oro.
  • Fagioli, Massimo. (2006). Una vita irrazionale. Roma: L’asino d’oro.
  • Fagioli, Massimo. (2007). Fantasia di sparizione. Roma: L’asino d’oro.
  • Fagioli, Massimo. (2009). Religione, ragione e libertà. Roma: L’asino d’oro.
  • Fagioli, Massimo. (2011). Materia energia pensiero. Roma: L’asino d’oro.
  • Fagioli, Massimo. (dal 2006 al 2016-17). Left. Roma: L’Asino d’Oro.
  • Marx, Karl. (1971). Per la critica dell’economia politica. Roma: Editori riuniti.
  • Croce, Benedetto. (1990). Breviario di estetica, Aesthetica in nuce. Milano: Adelphi.
  • Lotman, Jurij M. (2019). La struttura del testo poetico. Milano: Mursia.
  • Ceserani, Remo. (2005). Il testo poetico. Bologna: Il Mulino.