The Destiny of the Book


The Destiny of the Book

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Lecture: The Destiny of the Book

Lecturer: Gian Arturo Ferrari (Mondadori Libri, Milano)

Date: Friday, April 21, 2023, h. 6:30pm

Place: Monte Verità (Ascona), Auditorium

Cycle: Eranos-Jung Lectures 2023 - The Great Worksites of Contemporaneity. Looks at the Knots of the Present

Language: Italian

Chairperson: Fabio Merlini (Eranos Foundation, Ascona; SFUVET, Lugano)

Discussion with the audience and aperitif to follow

The recording of the conference can be viewed on the official YouTube channel of the Eranos Foundation.

Lecture Presentation

Those who will reflect on the fate of the book were leading figures in twentieth-century Italian publishing. He worked in medium and very large publishing houses, dealt with foreign homelands and literatures, above all he met people and things, crossed epochs, and invented series. Those who will entertain us on the subject look a lot like Italian publishing, elegant and irascible, generous and humble, cultured and commercial. For publishing is the child of intellectuality and commerce, belonging at bottom to neither. And then, age-old question, are publishers business captains? Do they still exist as the first three decades of the 20th century delivered them to us? The lecturer will passionately and pointedly reconstruct a seemingly magmatic, random story studded with envy and affection, anger, and reconciliation, love and dislike. Through publishing one can tell the story of a country, the story between the wars and that of the lead years, that of the magnificent 1980s and the more recent one, when the protagonists are perhaps less heroic but more unexpected. With a tone that is both epic and comic, affectionate and sharp, with eyes that are far away and at the same time very close, Gian Arturo Ferrari takes us through the human and cultural adventures of the men and women who had the task of choosing how, when and what books to publish in a country where everyone writes and few read. What can we still expect of books? Will they still be our traveling companions? What future awaits them?

Lecturer' Bio-bibliography

Gian Arturo Ferrari pursued for a time a double life: on the one hand university teaching, on the other publishing apprenticeship. A collaborator with Paolo Boringhieri, editor of Mondadori non-fiction in 1984, editor of Rizzoli Books in 1986, returning to Mondadori in 1988, he finally chose book publishing as his only life in 1989 and resigned from the university. Director of Mondadori Books in the early 1990s, he was general manager of the Mondadori Books Division from 1997 to 2009. From 2010 to 2014 he chaired the Center for Books and Reading, at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MiBACT, Italy). From 2015 to 2018, he was vice president of Mondadori Libri. He has been a columnist for "Corriere della Sera" and is president of the Ghislieri College of Pavia. In addition to the recently published Storia confidenziale dell’editoria italiana (2022), he is the author of Libro (2014) and Ragazzo italiano (2020, finalist for the Strega Prize).


To mark the 90th anniversary of the Eranos Conferences (1933-2023), the Foundation wanted to question some leading figures in today's cultural world, asking them to present the projects and issues on which they are working. The idea is to bring into dialogue at a distance qualified gazes on the nodes of our present, to highlight their risks, opportunities, and prospects. Not, of course, to listen to the last word on what is happening today, but rather to enter their laboratories of thought and try to focus on a kind of ongoing geography of the present time: to orient ourselves, to find ourselves, to map out possible virtuous paths-despite the disorientation and uncertainty that characterizes us, in an age that is very rich in technological resources, but very poor in future perspectives. Rather than inviting them to reflect on a guiding theme, as is the Eranos-Jung Lectures usual practice, we wanted to offer the lecturers the chance to present to the audience the issues they are working on, to see how the gaze on an object is constructed, through what sensibility, what concerns, what desire for understanding, and what method. And, of course, what passion. It will be a journey that will allow us to visit some “great worksites of contemporaneity” dedicated to different thematic areas: i.e., the state of health of our democracies; the fate of the “book” object and interiority in the time of endless distraction and social media; the reality of the metaverse, the overcoming of the human, and the resources of mysticism; the sonic perceptive in a society that continually solicits the sense of hearing; the solitude of the artist in the glittering world of the commodification of creativity; the drifts of the divine; and the meaning of making culture. In essence: a journey outside and inside ourselves.

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