The Futurism Movement and Marinetti Essay



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Filippo Thommaso Marinetti’s the foundation and Manifesto of futurism or The Futurist Manifesto provides many a view into a perspective that was not all too common in that era. A rejection of past and a praise of machinery, violence, speed, industry, and youth, the Mainfesto advocated for cultural rejuvenation and modernization of Italy. This essay will cover the life of the writer, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and what the Mainfesto meant to him, the meaning derived by others, and why the writer’s work offers significance today. Additionally, there will brief discussion on Marinetti’s view on World Literature and his voice within the literary world.


Marinetti’s Life


Marinetti is considered the founder of the Futurist movement. Futurism was a social and artistic movement originating with Marinetti in Italy in the early 1900’s. With the emphasis on violence, technology, speed, and youth, objects like planes and cars took center stage. What influences led to Marinetti founding such a significant movement? Marinetti was born on the 22nd of December in 1876. (Esposito) He was known as an Italian editor, art theorist, and poet. His most popular and best-known work is the Futurist Manifesto and the Fascist Manifesto. He began his love of literature when he was a young boy. Having been born in Alexandria, Egypt, he had parents interested in world literature and Italian and European classics.


Such an influence led to Marinetti starting Papyrus, his first school magazine when he was seventeen. (Ialongo) During this time, he developed a minor rebellious streak almost being expelled for publicizing scandalous novels from author, Emile Zola. He began his studies in Egypt, and then moved to Paris to obtain a baccalaureate degree at the Sorbonne in 1894. (Ialongo) Following that degree, he moved to Italy and attended the University of Pavia earning a law degree in 1899. Although he had a law degree, he forwent becoming a lawyer and instead chose a literary career.


In developing his literary career, Marinetti experimented with poetry, narrative, and theatre among other kinds of literature. (Esposito) This is important to note because it demonstrates why he could be regarded as someone that contributed to world literature. His outside influences and studying in various countries, experimenting with various types of literature provides a wealth of knowledge that culminated in his start of the Futurist movement. The Futurist movement is one of his greatest contributions and allowed for people to think in a new perspective and apply this new perspective to literature and other areas of art. Writing the Futurist Manifesto in 1909, it led to it being shared and debated all over Europe. Published in Le Figaro, the manifesto described Art as being nothing but injustice, cruelty, and violence. (Esposito) Futurism was known for having both Fascist and anarchist elements to it. In fact, Marinetti at one point was an active supporter of Benito Mussolini.


The Futurist Manifesto Analysis


The textbook features The Futurist Manifesto Lines 1-11. These are the first four lines:


1. We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.

2. Courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry.

3. Up to now literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt aggressive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.

4. We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace. (Puchner, et al.)


Looking at the first line the line seems abstract. But it refers to the foundation of Futurism in that Art is violence. By declaring love of singing of danger, this is a call to violence being something stimulatory. Almost like the idea of the Roman coliseum and gladiator fights. In a way that line speaks of this chaos and fury.


Another line that sort of plays into the violence theme is line 2 and the use of the word, ‘revolt’. When thinking of revolt, it inspires violence and people attempt a revolution. The future is revolution. It shown in the eras that marked the past century. The third line brings in perhaps the reason why he is included. He details how literature exalted at the time, sleep. The Futurist movement in many ways is about movement, speed, action. This innovative on the part of Marinetti.


He matches this in the fourth line when he discusses speed. Speed is the hallmark of the future. Innovation and creation has generated speedy transportation, speedy delivery of information. The fact Marinetti included this in his work speaks volumes of him as a writer. He understood the aspect of time and the collective movement towards change. For example, just decades before his birth was the tail spin of the Industrial Revolution.


Why Marinetti?


He was the founder of the Futurist movement. He was Italian and provided Europe at the time, a means of analyzing literature from a new perspective. His manifesto contributions are significant and therefore make the writer significant. While he did not win any awards, his poetry meant something, especially because five years after he published it, World War I began. During this time, there was great turmoil and the idea of Art representing violence spoke to people and would expand the Futurist movement. (Berghaus)


The Futurist movement included several artists. Some of these became well-known painters. A good example of this is The City Rises by Boccioni in 1910. (Berghaus) His work represented scenes of manual labor and construction, and a big, red horse at its core. This violent painting also evoked speed in the sense that construction meant speed of civilization. These among other works led to the movement expanding further, becoming notable and extensive. It was seen in dance, film, literature, and music. Thanks to futurism, other art movements came to fruition.


These movements are Art Deco, Surrealism, Dada, and even Neo-Futurism. (Berghaus) Futurism became a seed for what would bring great change in the art world. Therefore, it founder would generate major significance and should be featured. Regarding Marinetti’s perspective on world literature, is one that is willing to explore past boundaries set within the literary world. That ‘sleepiness’, that ecstasy fails to cover what is reality. That reality can be harsh and unyielding.




In conclusion, Marinetti was a unique person with an individual perspective. Having spent time in Alexandria, Egypt and then starting Papyrus as a teenager, he developed a slight rebellious streak. It was this aspect of his personality and his love of literature that propelled him to develop his literary career rather than be a lawyer. Through his literary experiments he created the Manifesto of Futurism and allowed him to leave an indelible mark on the world of literature. His desire for Italy to improve and his appeal to innovation makes him a notable contributor to literature.


Works Cited


Berghaus, Gu?nter. International Futurism in Arts and Literature. Walter de Gruyter, 2012.


Esposito, Fernando. Fascism. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.


Ialongo, Ernest. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti: The Artist and His Politics. Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2015.


Puchner, Martin, et al. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 2018.

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