Ovi -
we cover every issue
Status: Refugee - Is not a choice  
Ovi Bookshop - Free Ebook
Stop human trafficking
Ovi Language
Murray Hunter: Essential Oils: Art, Agriculture, Science, Industry and Entrepreneurship
Stop violence against women
Tony Zuvela - Cartoons, Illustrations
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
BBC News :   - 
iBite :   - 
Il Capo Di Tutti Capi Strikes Again
by Alexandra Pereira
2009-06-06 09:13:46
Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author
DeliciousRedditFacebookDigg! StumbleUpon
“You publish a book if it is good, you don’t if it is bad”
Giulio Einaudi, on his aversion to publish (or not) a book due to financial or political reasons

No: all the scandals, the cases of corruption and conflicts of interests, censorship, attacks to the Italian Constitution, manipulation of the media, intimidation of jurists, abuse of power, national and international humiliation and embarrassing episodes, his advertised misogyny, private life self-marketing campaign and constant newspapers’ soap-opera, all those were not enough… when you think you have had it all, Berlusconi comes and censors… Literature Nobel laureates! Through “his” publishing house!

einaudi1_400It doesn’t matter if Saramago was published by Einaudi for 20 years and could always keep good relationships with his publishers throughout the world, it doesn’t matter if he won the Literature Nobel prize, it doesn’t matter if he is an eighty-seven year-old much more lucid than any Berlusconi supporter or Berlusconi himself… the only thing which does matter is that he doesn’t agree with the supreme capo and (oh misery) the supreme capo now owns Einaudi! The Italian Prime-Minister thinks that because he now owns Italy’s most important publishing house he is the boss of the “Clean Literature” and the censor of all writers inside Italy! So if Saramago doesn’t agree with him, he doesn’t allow Saramago’s latest book (which mentions many more international public figures besides Berlusconi) to be published by Einaudi!

It doesn’t even matter if the brother of the publisher Giulio Einaudi, Mario Einaudi, was a prominent anti-fascist and their father once a journalist, a President and a supporter of European Federalism. Giulio Einaudi founded reading councils of which were part Cesare Pavese, Elio Vittorini, Italo Calvino, Primo Levi, among others. He belonged to a rare type of editors which are able to mark future generations (as Gallimard, for instance, did), gather a strong group of good writers around them, defend their authors before the public, make risky choices, introduce the readers to new forms of art and different tastes, show a great deal of dynamism, honesty and, above all, love for literature. In sum, a unique set of talents which Berlusconi has proved he or his partners in crime will never ever be able or willing to show. Einaudi loved books and cared for them – from their content and merits (he didn’t allow his reading councils to use arguments like “the reader’s taste” or “what will the public think?” when discussing if a book should or should not be published) to the covers designed by Bruno Munari, the careful pagination and his patented fonts which other editors could never (in spite of their efforts) imitate. It breaks my heart (and the heart of all Literature lovers) to see Einaudi publishing house, one of the greatest symbols of Italian 20th century culture, in such dirty hands, with its name rolling on the mud.

einaudi2_400Nor does the irony of things matter. The building which hosts Saramago's Foundation today, originally from 1523, had as a model the Diamonds Palace in Ferrara, after a trip to Italy by its first owner. The original Palace is today the Pinacoteca Nazionale and Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Ferrara. The other one, built in 1523 and inspired by it, is currently Saramago's Foundation and Library. Contrasting deeply with Saramago, clearly Berlusconi has no respect for the appreciation and influence of Italian arts and culture in the world. I even doubt he knows who Rossetti was. Well at least the architect does not come on IKEA’s catalogues – probably the most complex pages which il capo di tutti capi ever tried to read.

Still he and his “capangas”, as the Brazilians would say, feel free to go around censoring books, in such a fashion they make us wonder how long will it take for them to start burning all undesirable volumes. "The Notebook", the book by Saramago which gathers literary and political texts from his blog, including reflections on Bush and Blair, Carlos Fuentes, Garzón, Pessoa, the Global warming, Israel, Rosa Parks, Davos, Obama, Wall Street, Aznar, Darwin, the Pope, Fidel Castro and Guantanamo was released in Portugal in April, this week in Spain (in both Castillan and Catalan) by Alfaguara, will soon be released in Brazil and in the other South-American countries, while after the Summer it will be available in the UK and US as well. Einaudi refused to publish other critical texts in recent times, for example the political posthumous poetry by Giovanni Raboni or "The Body of the Capo," by Marco Belpoliti. Saramago believes that the censorship of Einaudi is due to the fact that he wrote without any mooring on Berlusconi as a head of government and the problem is that he also owns the publishing house and many other media in Italy.

saramagopilar_400According to the author of "Memorial of the Convent" and “Stone Raft”, the situation would be quaint if it did not mean that the accumulation of all powers in the hands of one politician puts at risk the quality of the Italian democracy. On December 4, 2008 Saramago said: "I am insignificant before the dignity and courage showed by Roberto Saviano, a professor sentenced to death for having written a book ("Gomorrah") complaining against a criminal organization capable of kidnapping a city and its citizens." The reason for the rupture with the publishing house of Silvio Berlusconi seems to be that the book contains “critical judgments and disqualifications” of the Italian Prime Minister. The author of "Essay on Blindness" writes, among other things: "In the land of the Mafia and the Camorra, how important can the evidence that the Prime Minister is a criminal be?" Saramago, 87 years, follows closely the Italian reality in recent months. At some point he compares Berlusconi with a "capo" of the Mafia – when approached about this epithet, Saramago answered simply: "Do you really think it is exaggerated? Are you sure? At least let's agree on the fact that he has a mafia mentality."

Qualifying Berlusconi as a criminal is one of the reasons which, according to an official note issued by the Einaudi, part of the Mondadori publishing empire, justify their refusal and censorship. For Saramago, the greatest risk of figures such as Berlusconi is the fine line which does not allow certain limits to be met: "The limits which exist between his private businesses and the public sphere. Someone able to promote bribery and buy the will of his people is able to do anything. Berlusconi has done it before. One cannot say somebody is not a criminal just because he didn't murder anyone or because he wasn't directly involved in armed robbery. There are many other ways of being a criminal.” He adds: "What I say about him is more or less what everybody thinks, except for his voters. We say that democracy is the best system, which is true. But its weakness is enormous. When a man like this appears, a man who uses the worst methods and manages to get millions of votes, the strangest thing happens only if outraged voices don't rise and protest, if a social movement of rejection does not happen, for the mere fact that he ruins the reputation of his country."

José Saramago “fully understands” that the publishing house Einaudi, which maintained with him a relationship of two decades, did not publish his book: "It's normal. I can understand. If they did [publish it], they would be dismissed," he said on Friday to "El País". In any case, he feels at peace and prefers to break his relationship with the publishing house owned by Silvio Berlusconi. "For me it is a relief. It may be that this will end my relationship with them for good. I am very loyal to my publishers in the whole world, but if I have to do something, I do, and that's it. I don’t want to contribute indirectly to his [Berlusconi’s] fortune."

The methods of the Italian Prime Minister, to Saramago, go beyond many limits. "It must also be the European Union to draw people’s attention for this. They should say that there are ways to behave in the public sphere and cases like this discredit politics." Even more now, on the campaign trail, "An average European citizen has every right to ask what kind of Europe is this, which welcomes a man who behaves with such poor education in international meetings. They did not refrain him in time, and people quite rightly begin to wonder, as Cicero did: 'Until when will he continue abusing of our patience?' "The Notebook" will be published in Italy by Bollati Poringhieri of Turin instead. And Saramago announces: "My next novel, which will be published in the Fall in Portugal, Brazil and Spain, will not be released by this publisher [Einaudi] in Italy. I feel very sorry for this, because in the past they always treated me with utmost respect and consideration."

Sources: El País and Pilar del Río, Spanish journalist and Saramago’s wife, in the Blog of Saramago’s Foundation


1) Giulio Einaudi, Italo Calvino, Guido Bonino, Elio Vittorini and Carlo Levi in Corfù for the 1963 International Editors’ Award (by InternetCulturale)

2) Elio Vittorini, Daniele Ponchiroli, Italo Calvino e Giulio Einaudi. Casa Einaudi, San Giacomo di Dogliani. Sixties (Archive Agnese Incisa, by InformatissimaFotografia)

3) José Saramago and Pilar del Río: an Iberian marriage which begun 22 years ago with the shared love for literature, an unlikely meeting and a visit to Pessoa’s tomb

Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author

Get it off your chest
 (comments policy)

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 15:00:05
Having already expressed my views on this controversy under the summary of the May contributions whose commentary began with an announcement of this forthcoming article by its author, there is no need to reiterate once again the views expressed there and resurrect the diatribe. Suffice to say that I remain unconvinced by the replies to my replies that the metaphor of a tempest in a teacup does not apply here, given that the book will ultimately be published by another editor (Bollati Boringhieri). Be that as it may, for another view of the Einaudi/Saramango controversy open the link below to a more serene and nuanced report on the issue in the form of an e-mail interview with Saramango himself by Dino Messina which appeared in “Il Corriere della Sera,” the most widely read newspaper in Italy on May 29, 2009.


Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 15:00:46
An intriguing quote from Saramango of that same interview is this:

L’autore del Vangelo se¬condo Gesù è severo anche con l’Italia: «Quando tutte le opinioni che si diffonde¬vano sulla capacità creati¬va, sulla modernità e talen¬to artistico erano favorevo¬li, non ricordo nessuno che si lamentasse di questi giu¬dizi. Ora le cose sono cam¬biate. L’Italia non è più il Pa¬ese che emoziona, ma sor¬prende non certo per le mi¬gliori ragioni. Né l’Italia né coloro che amano questo Paese meritano lo spettaco¬lo politico di fascinazione malata per Berlusconi».

One may well agree with that harsh judgment on a whole country and indeed on the whole EU, but that by itself does not address the real issue which is the relationship of corruption and who is ultimately responsible for it within a democratic polity.

On a more pedestrian linguistic and purely grammatical note on the form of the title, the article “i” is missing before the noun "capi." Mafiosi may get offended at the lack of care for the form of their most supreme award.

AP2009-06-06 15:06:47
Einaudi's struzzo/ostrich logo:

Cesare Pavese, "Officina Einaudi":

Federico Fellini's "Fare un film"/"To Make a Film" with the "Autobiography of a Spectator" by Calvino, by Einaudi:

and Fellini's "Racconti umoristici"/"Humorous stories", by Einaudi:

Ellio Vitorinni, "Letteratura arte società"/"Literature art society", by Einaudi:

Primo Levi, "I Sommersi e i salvati"/ "The submerged and the saved", by Einaudi:

Guido Bonino "Alfabeto Einaudi"/"Einaudi's Alphabet"(From A of Adorno to V of Vitorinni), Bonino recalls the meetings with some of the greatest writers and thinkers of our time, in twenty years working for Einaudi, 1961 to 1978:

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 15:07:09
P.S. The quote of Saramango was copied verbatim with the computer but it appears with technological additions above which may be mistaken for typos. So that we don't assume incorrectly that Saramango, a Nobel literature winner, and a deserving one at that, does not know his Italian.

AP2009-06-06 15:08:43

Who is Saramango?

AP2009-06-06 15:23:23

ps - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capo_di_tutti_capi




Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 15:25:01
Ah, another typo caught which of course does not invalidate the missing "i" before capi. Two typos do not cancel each other. And now that we have taken care of the form we may proceed with the content, albeit it remains a tempest in a teacup.

Alexandra Pereira2009-06-06 15:31:41
You can find that i missing in many more places, as you know well.

I will not proceed until you call "teacher Harold" and ask him who is Saramango. I would very much like to hear his answer to that.

It depends on who is the tempest and who is the teacup.

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 15:38:17
P.S. Did you notice that the dictionary you consulted as copied above, says that the expression as is is slang. It would have been even more accurate to say that it is dialect. Most mafiosi in in the US did not speak Italian but Sicilian dialect. Worth keeping that in mind next time you watch The Godfather and its sequels, in case you had not noticed before. Indeed, Mario Puzo had no trouble finding a publisher for his book...neither did he have any trouble in finding a director. Perhaps Saramago will write another book titled "The Clown of Europe" and find a Fellini type who will make a movie of it.

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 15:59:37
Who is Bollati Porinchieri mentioned in your article, Ms. Pereira?

Shall we continue with our typo corrections? Could it be that the correction of typos and the distortion of names (mine was submitted to that dubious scholarly procedure recently...) has absolutely nothing to do with the truth about the Einaudi/Saramago tempest in the teacup?

AP2009-06-06 16:08:15
No, next time you'll have to write to El País.

Or otherwise call "teacher Harold".

Alexandra Pereira2009-06-06 16:18:20
You could also call the Pope complaining about a certain "Saramango" whose name I've corrected for you some 3 or 4 times before and has been correctly written in all my comments or articles which you felt like commenting and distorting - you could have just copied it... or are you trying to convince me that besides having slept in Prof. Bloom's classes you are also unable to copy a name??!

Mr. Papamarillo:

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 16:31:48
Point amply proven!

Indeed old nasty habits die hard.

You need now to call your ideological teachers in whose political science classes you might have been sleeping and ask them who is Bollati Porinchieri might be since you have not aknowledged yet that his name is mispelled just as mine is on purpose. Idealogues and activists hardly ever acknowledge making mistakes. Sad commentary indeed!

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 16:38:04

The above which I wrote on Berlusconi is for the reader who may be wondering how slanderous and delinquent may be the above scurrilous pronouncements. I trust they will make up their own mind, if that kind of mind-set is capable of writing a fair and well researched article.

AP2009-06-06 16:54:56
His name is quite often mispelled both in Spanish and Portuguese, that's why you seem to refuse to write to El País.

Ideological teachers? Political science? I thought we were discussing books and freedom of speech here!
And stop addressing "the reader" as a politician addresses "the voters" while in campaign, for goodness' sake!
What need do you have to use an online free magazine for shameful self-marketing and bashing of all non-Christians? Aren't you supposed to be a "respectable professor"? Are you that desperate? Earning much money to do that? Get a grip!

AP2009-06-06 17:07:08
ps - And how do you correct a name by spelling it wrongly too? - Yes, you are right, you could be elected the clown of the week (though I doubt either Fellini or "Saramango" would be willing to waste any precious time with you).

Alexandra Pereira2009-06-06 17:34:51
Yes, a tempest in a teacup. I suppose it's okay, from now on and considering this interesting and laudable precedent, to sell all irreplaceable and priceless cultural entities from all European countries, together with their freedom and independence traditions, to any despotic Prime-Minister who wants to "clean literature" from all undesirable writers, their opinions and their freedom of expression.
Don't all dictators attack artists and writers, and culture in general? Why should Berlusconi's crapulence be any different?

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 17:41:26
And, true to form, you still have not answered the question: who is BOLLATI PORINCHIERI?

Alexandra Pereira2009-06-06 17:53:00

It would rather be: WHAT ARE YOU???! MENTALLY DISABLED?? (no insult intended to mentally disabled people)


AP2009-06-06 18:03:45
This link is for you:

and this book too:

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 18:20:32
All is well that ends well: an appropriate and worthy conclusion to a storm in a teacup: the war of the mangos, and french fries and saltimbocca alla romana, and prosciutto e mellone or the intellectual equivalent of a third grade cafeteria food fight full of clever by half aleks...Food for thougnt, indeed.

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 18:21:54
Errata: thought.

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 19:03:33
Since it has not been acknowledged as a typografical error yet one must assume that you thinks that you have the correct spelling. In point of fact the name of the editor who will publish Saramago's book is Bollati Boringhieri and not Bollati Porinchieri. I know, I know some of us are slower than others but the real problem may not be the form but the ideological content. Most readers, I wager, have realized that by now.

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 19:05:41
I find it astonishing that today is D day and not a word of commemoration has been heard in today's banal and trivial of comment. Cicero also said: O tempora, o mores!

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 19:07:15
Errata: you think.

Emanuel Paparella2009-06-06 19:08:37
Errata: banal and trivial comments.

© Copyright CHAMELEON PROJECT Tmi 2005-2008  -  Sitemap  -  Add to favourites  -  Link to Ovi
Privacy Policy  -  Contact  -  RSS Feeds  -  Search  -  Submissions  -  Subscribe  -  About Ovi