Magazine Cultura

The drab staging of the Buchmesse and the ignorance of the Italian people

Creato il 18 ottobre 2011 da Queenseptienna @queenseptienna

On Sunday, October 16th ended the Frankfurt International Book Fair, one of the most important events of his kind. Publishers, literary agents and other professionals of the publishing world from over a hundred countries around the world, they all attended the event, to grow, expand their networks and build a new publishing for the future. Special guest of this edition was Iceland, but also my country, Italy, was present, with more than fifty publisher in attendance.

Now, publishing business must really be one of those Italian ruling class do care about, right? After all, we’re always talking about it, they recently approved a law that was right about books, the Levi law, and our Prime Minister owns his own publishing house. And, for those who don’t know, I’m not talking about a small publishing house, not at all. He and his daughter own Mondadori, which is the biggest and most important publishing house in Italy.

But then why such a huge majority of Italians usually read no more than one book – and not per month, per year?

Maybe, and I say maybe, Italians love small talks about publishing, but it’s not the same amount love we have for the ultimate products of this industry (one of the products, actually), the books themselves. Italians, we study books, we don’t read them. We all know everything about Dante Alighieri, but quite nobody has read the Divine Comedy, not even a hendecasyllable of it.

You could clearly see that at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Who represented the Italian political class at the Buchmesse? The Minister of Culture, Giancarlo Galan? No way! The person that is in charge of the development of cultural activities denied himself at one of the most important cultural events in Europe. Makes sense, uh? Journalist Roberto Giardina, in an article that appeared on Italian newspaper Italia Oggi on October 12th reports that the ruling class is not really interested in this kind of events. This year, representing Italian politician at the Buchmesse, was Galan’s undersecretary Riccardo Villari. Previously, in place of former Minister of Culture Sandro Bondi (that is a writer and a poet himself, oh the irony), used to attend vice-minister Francesco Giro.

The aforementioned Giardina writes that even when members of our government took part in the event, they weren’t much better. Gianfranco Fini attended the fair as President of the Chamber of Deputies and in his speech he talked only about internal politics of Italy, totally forgetting the main reason he was invited: books. Giovanna Melandri, that was the last Minister of Culture to show up at Frankfurt, did not make a good impression either, when asked about books.

She read her speech full of data, precise because her staff prepared it. In the end, any question?

Everybody was quiet and I [Giardina] was tempted to break the silence. Can I ask you a personal question? I dared. What is the last book you bought, not that someone gave to you as a present, I mean you bought in a library? Mrs. Melandri was puzzled and maybe also annoyed. Why do you want to know that? Well, we’re surrounded by 500 thousands books, between news and classics, have you bought at least one recently? She managed to escape the uncomfortable situation saying that it wouldn’t have been polite to mention one the writers that were her friends and excluding others.

I am honestly horrified. And mad. But I’m not mad only at them. I mean, you have to blame everything on the political class, it’s a rule. But you, you that have read only one book this year, maybe two, maybe even less, well, it’s your fault too. In facts, it’s mostly your fault.

Yes because – and the drab staging that every year is shown at the International Book Fair is a proof of that – the ignorance of Italian current political class mirrors the ignorance of Italian people. In this case, we’re talking about books and indolent readers, but the same could apply to economics, welfare, ecology and all the other social themes politic is about.

A politician that does not read, that doesn’t buy books or that doesn’t give a damn about publishing when he’s not buying a publishing house, when he’s not enacting a liberticidal law that basically kills Amazon Italy and others online book sellers, is what deserves a people – the Italian people – that does not have a clue about what the heck is a e-Reader, that could not name any other Italian writer other than Fabio Volo, that rather than reading would play Angry Birds on their cell phones for hours.

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