The Fortunes of the Orlando Furioso, 1516-2016

This guest post by Helena Sanson (Clare College, Cambridge) and Francesco Lucioli (University College Dublin) has been written to accompany the book display in the North Front corridor of the University Library, organised by them in collaboration with Anna-Luise Wagner (Selwyn College, Cambridge)

orlando-furioso-blog-fig-12016 marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of one of the masterpieces of Italian Renaissance literature, and world literature more broadly: the Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto (Reggio Emilia 1474 – Ferrara 1533). As a contribution towards the celebrations of this anniversary that has seen conferences and events taking place all over the world, a book display of Orlando furioso editions held in Cambridge University Library will be held between 7 November and 3 December. On Friday 18 November, there will also be an event in Clare College entitled The Fortunes of the Orlando furioso, 1516-2016, which is free and open to the general public. The event includes public lectures by Renaissance specialists on the fortunes of the poem in literature, art and music (Clare College, Latimer room, 3-5 pm), followed by a concert of arias inspired across the centuries by this magnificent poem (Clare College Chapel, 6 pm). More details on the event and on how to register can be found here: Continue reading

The power of the image


Officiolum di Francesco da Barberino (Tab.b.932-933)

The Tuscan poet and lawyer Francesco da Barberino(1264-1348) may not be as familiar today as his Florentine contemporaries Dante and Giotto, but he occupies a unique position at the intersection of poetry and painting in Italy at the dawn of the fourteenth century. He knew Dante – indeed the earliest reference to the still incomplete Divine Comedy is in one of Francesco’s works of c.1313. He also collaborated with Giotto, providing him with visual ideas for the Arena Chapel in Padua. Francesco’s cultural experience stretched beyond Italy: he travelled widely in France to the court of Philip the Fair in Paris and the papal curia in Avignon, acquiring a deep familiarity with Provencal poetry during five years of exile.

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Italian literary prizewinners for 2015

We try, each year, to draw your attention to the literary prizewinners of various European countries. We have written in the past of the five major Italian prizes and in July last year we posted the results of the 2015 Strega prize after Nicola Lagioia had won with his novel La ferocia (C208.c.9478).

The Strega is undoubtedly the most prestigious of the Italian literary prizes, but there are 4 others we have highlighted in recent years and below are the winners for 2015: Continue reading

A stylish pocket-sized tribute

It was interesting to notice the 1000th volume in the series “La memoria” published by Sellerio editore. Entitled, La memoria di Elvira, it celebrates the series, honouring the woman behind it, Elvira Giorgianni Sellerio (1936-2010).

Cover of the 1000th volume

Cover of the 1000th volume

Elvira Giorgianni and her husband Enzo Sellerio, a renowned photographer, founded the publishing firm of Sellerio editore in 1969 in Palermo, very much with the support and collaboration of the writer Leonardo Sciascia and the anthropologist Antonino Buttitta. In 1979 the series “La memoria” was born, its very title making the reader aware of how memorable these selected authors and texts are. Known as “la Signora”, Elvira was passionate about stories, and became an expert at identifying and gathering stories that she judged right for her series, whether by Italian authors or authors in translation. In 1981 “Diceria dell’untore” by Giovanni Bufalino (741:35.d.95.244) won the prestigious Premio Campiello. When in 1983 the business was divided between Elvira and husband, he took over the art and photography side of the business, while she was left in charge of the narrative side (fiction and essays). Important writers continued to be featured in the series, such as Andrea Camilleri, with his numerous short stories and novels.

A series of little blue books, the “La memoria” series signalled a change in book design. The characteristic deep blue of the covers with a picture in the centre was revolutionary and elegant. The books were small and stylish, designed to fit easily in a jacket pocket.

A selection of volumes from the UL collections.

A selection of volumes from the UL’s collections.

“La memoria di Elvira” (C204.d.1412), with as a centrepiece a photo taken in the late fifties of Elvira working at her desk, is made up of texts by twenty-three authors who contributed to the series over the years: Luisa Adorno, Maria Attanasio, Attilio Brilli, Antonino Buttitta, Andrea Camilleri, Vincenzo Campo, Luciano Canfora, Francesco M. Cataluccio, Remo Ceserani, Masolino d’Amico, Gianfranco Dioguardi, Daria Galateria, Alicia Giménez-Bartlett, Maria José de Lancastre, Alessandra Lavagnino, Salvatore Silvano Nigro, Santo Piazzese, Gianni Puglisi, Francesco Recami, Giuseppe Scaraffia, Adriano Sofri, Sergio Valzania and Piero Violante. It is a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman.

Bettina Rex

Sebastiano Vassalli (1941-2015)


Sebastiano Vassalli (source)

“Not reading at all is better than reading certain books. I have always been wary of that   marketing advertising books like milk, as in Fellini’s Dolce vita: ‘Read more books, books are good for you!’, and so on. Reading what? You can’t generalise. There is a moment in one’s life, however, when distinctions are of no use. It’s when a kid starts reading. We fall in love with reading before we fall in love with books: and it’s not useful, it’s not appropriate to demand a choice from a ten, eleven-year-old.” Continue reading