Publishing is chronically in crisis now. Beyond easy socio-cultural speculations (internet, television, rapid and superficial consumption etc …), it is necessary to note how Italy is afflicted by a disaffection for reading, a love that has its roots in the school . Far from making a general and therefore necessarily trivial critique, I would like to dwell on some faults of the academic system which then, with impatience, drag themselves into the world of “adults”. And that influence that 50% of Italians who do not read more than one book a year, as well as those who, while reading, cannot concentrate on original, innovative readings, turning to the best-seller recipe book for a ready-to-eat, unique product escape from the idea of a “heavy”, boring, oppressive literature. The passion for reading is a fire that burns but needs to be stoked by external stimuli, such as those offered by the school environment. It is in the adolescent years that the pleasure of reading, of capturing the narrative nuances, of touching and imagining those characters of paper and words, taking on literary fiction with enchantment and desire to investigate, takes shape, or at least refines. Unfortunately, however, those characters and those stories often remain – precisely – made of paper and words, without the possibility of a “real” encounter with the reader. This is because the definitions of the historical context, the biography of the author, the structural inquiries on the text that dissect him surgically to pigeonhole him between syntax and rhetorical figures kill “the breath of life”, that immediate, epidermic approach (that “thrill on the spine) dorsal “, as Nabokov would say) that dazzles the reader even before he begins to dissect valences and literary belonging. Missing, in short, a “didactics of reading” that does not start from pedisseque anthological quotations but that, first of all, let the reader savor the thrill of an insane passion, that for the endless labyrinths marked by the alchemical and combinatorial art of words, in which the narration moves. It is not clear then (or better, we understand, unfortunately, but this is not the context for these observations) because Italian literature stops at Manzoni, at the imposing nineteenth-century print. Only a few timid references to Pavese, if all goes well, and little else. Where are Pasolini, Pavese, Moravia, Calvino? Yeah, Calvino. Here we touch on another paradox: the absolute indifference to the story in favor of the spasmodic, liturgical veneration of the novel of three-four hundred pages. That, in short, prevailing until the beginning of the last century.
At school – and not only – the story in Italy is considered “B series” literature, the worldwide contributions of Poe, Cecov, Borges and other illustrious authors are worthless. It is no coincidence that publishing, continuing the trace of the invisible thread that links the school to the “adult” culture, listlessly publishes the stories, following the “known” names that avoid the shadow of a failure. If education to the culture of the story is missing, it is obvious that the novel is the master. As it is no coincidence that the aspiring writers, anchored to the nineteenth-century novel read (?) On the school benches, present themselves in a literary agency with works of Proustian size. If you are not a good reader, then it is difficult to be a good writer. And here we return to the fugitive “didactics of reading”. Between Alessandro Manzoni and Alessandro Baricco there is more than a century of literature, with changes, innovations, discoveries and style reversals … Yet, in the collective imagination the structure of the Italian novel, the one with a capital r , wandering around in the neighborhood of Manzoni. For goodness sake, a great author, on which however one lingers for almost a year at the expense of other marvels of fiction. This is why the book is often a distant object, distant as are those school desks, once they have grown up. Even before being a subject of study, a novel is simply a novel, if “simple” can be defined as the magical universe of a construction, a fiction that in a space defined by words will introduce us to another world. Unfortunately, culture – and consequently reading – too often has been considered a “cenacle for a select few”, almost an initiation. Yet the contagion with a novel can affect any reader; many more are those who could “get sick” but who have not received the correct “exposure” to the reading virus. The school has a fundamental role, we reiterate, in this deficiency, it has it above all for the superficiality with which it treats modern literature and for the stiffening of a novel the predefined boxes, very useful in a context of study but subordinated to the force disruptive narrative, even before studying the author and the current in which it is grafted. From here, bad readers and bad writers. A return to literature with curiosity and with that sense of wonder that accompanies us when we are children, and that breaks down every distance and barrier, perhaps would help us to feel those books and words less distant. Approaching also a contemporary literature too often judged “a priori” as poor compared to the great classics. Sifting through the sifting, without prejudice, some literary bacillus can still fall on a reader. Which can still get sick, and fall in love.