We were saddened to hear last week of the death of Denis Mack Smith, CBE FBA FRSL, considered to be the greatest English historian of modern Italy. Born on March 3, 1920, he wrote extensively on the history of Italy from the Risorgimento onwards and is best known for his works on Garibaldi, Cavour and Mussolini. He was honoured both in this country and abroad. An emeritus fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and an honorary fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford and of Peterhouse here in Cambridge, he was named Grand Official of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 1996.
Here at the UL, in addition to our extensive holdings of his works, we have numerous items that were part of his personal library and which have been very generously passed on to us by the Bodleian. It has been a pleasure and privilege to unpack, sort and catalogue these items, and I have endeavoured to highlight some of them in past blog posts. Very poignantly, I heard the news of his death, on July 11 2017, whilst unpacking the latest consignment to arrive from Oxford. I shall treasure the opportunity to add these to our collections, and remain extremely grateful both to the Bodleian and to Denis Mack Smith for passing these on.
This is a guest post by Barbara Casalini, Lelia Barcatta and Patricia O’Loughlin, senior staff with our Italian book provider, Casalini.
Mario Casalini, the father of our current owners Michele and Barbara, visited the US in the 1950s with a group of Italian publishers. During that visit a Harvard professor complained that there were no reliable channels of supply for both books and information about Italian scholarly publications. Mario decided to act on this and set up his first office in Montreal in 1958, moved next to New York and then to Florence in the early 70s. Finally, in the late 70s the company was set up in the family home in Fiesole.
Mario Casalini in the 70s
Full staff photo, 1968 ca.
Barbara and Michele Casalini, in the early 2000’s
A view of Villa La Torrossa
We have written in the past of the five major Italian literary prizes and, since we started our blog, we have highlighted the prizewinners each year.
Here are the winners for 2016:
The Strega prize: awarded this year to Edoardo Albinati for his novel La scuola cattolica (C211.c.1831)
The Bagutta prize: awarded this year to Paolo Di Stefano for Ogni altra vita : storia di italiani non illustri (C211.c.4073) and to Paolo Maurensig for his novel Teoria delle ombre (C210.c.5964) Continue reading
From the cover of Dario Fo a Milano: lazzi, sberleffi e dipinti (S950.c.201.296)
Writing this blogpost about Dario Fo, I am filled with emotion. Back in August, nearly two months before his death (and when he already knew his illness was terminal), the 90 year-old Italian actor, playwright, theatre director, stage designer, songwriter, painter and political activist performed on stage for two hours and finished the show singing. I was lucky enough to see him perform when he was “only” in his late 70s, and I still remember his incredible vitality and wit, his eyes shining with youthful enthusiasm, his humanity, irony and cutting words causing simultaneous laughter and deep reflection. Continue reading