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Giovanni Testori
(May 12, 1923 - March 16, 1993) Italy

Giovanni Testori

Writer and critic

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He was born in Novate, one of the outer suburbs of Milan, the third of six children in a family of middle-class means. As Giovanni was a promising student, he was sent to school in the center of Milan, where he was initially teased for speaking his parents' provincial dialect. Nevertheless he did well at school, showing a precocious interest in art, and at the age of 16 even publishing an article on an exhibition of Caravaggio's paintings.

By the time Testori graduated from the Catholic University of Milan with a degree in philosophy, he had published several articles and an essay on Matisse. At university Testori made many friends among Milanese artistic and literary circles, and after graduating in 1947 he gravitted towards a full involvement in that world.

Giovanni TestoriWidely known in Italy as a critic of art and contemporary culture, Testori was also a prolific author of novels, plays and poetry. Much less well known was the fact he was a homosexual, although the subject appeared frequently as a theme in his works; but it was not a publicised aspect of his personality.

Testori was devoutly Catholic, and in many ways his life and work embody much of the tension between modern sexual emancipaton and the Catholic religion. While some of his early work may have seemed to be leading towards the former, in later life Testori fervently embraced the latter.

In the 1960s Testori began the relationship with the man he was later to describe as the love of his life, Alain. Several of Testori's published works were inspired by this relationship, including L'amore (Love, 1968) and Per sempre (Forever, 1969), both collections of poems, and later Alain (1971) and A te (To You, 1973). He died from cancer in San Raffaele hospital, in Milan.

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Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History, from WWII to Present Day, Routledge, London, 2001

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