A searing introduction to Franco Fortini, a Jewish communist and a major figure in postwar Italian intellectual life, The Dogs of the Sinai is a book against those who love to rush to the aid of the victors, against the widespread and racist contempt for Arabs, and against the celebration of modern civilization and technology that Israel embodies. It is also the book in which Fortini sought to clarify for himself his conflicted identity as an Italian Jew. An uncomfortably timely book, The Dogs of the Sinai combines polemic and autobiography with narrative and criticism in a terse and finely wrought reflection on politics, identity, and truthfulness in the period after the Six Day War of 1967. Fortini describes with rich personal detail the Nazi occupation of Italy and the rise of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, meditating on the birth of fascism and the increasing anti-Arabic influence in Europe. As topical today as it was forty-five years ago, this meditation against power is published alongside Fortini/Cani, a film by Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, drawn from Fortini's essay.
The film includes moving scenes of the author reading excerpts from his book against quiet landscapes. The Dogs of the Sinai is a powerful text from one of the most important intellectuals of the Italian New Left.
Franco Fortini (1917-94) was a poet, essayist, literary critic, Marxist intellectual, and translator of Brecht, Goethe, and Kafka, among others. Alberto Toscano teaches in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of Fanaticism and The Theatre of Production and the translator of several books by Alain Badiou.