On account of its State and Church-sponsored publishing, Italy finds itself in sixty-ninth place out of all the countries in the world with regard to free thought.
The writers of this mentally castrated country, who should have been its torch and driving force, and who, with a few exceptions, have contacts in the right places and access to subsidized publishing houses, are unable to produce anything innovative and original.
Recently the editor Bompiani suggested that film director and actor Carlo Verdone should write his biography, adding that they would provide a ghost writer to help him. In other words the biography would not be written by the film director (in fact it has already been published by the above-mentioned editor) but would largely be written by the ghost writer. Verdone quite frankly admitted this on Fabio Fazio’s programme, Che tempo che fa on Rai3 on Sunday 26 February 2012.
What does this mean? It means that the writers of this country in one way or another are manufactured, formatted, influenced and fed like battery chickens, as Carla Benedetti would say. In other words, they come in one size, wearing one uniform with a price attached.
On the other hand, I, who have sent my manuscripts to almost every Italian editor, as I am not a Carlo Verdone, and I do not have a size, a uniform, and a price stamped on me, or friends in high places, and as I am unskilled in the art of grovelling but am a mere hick, one of society’s cripples, and as I am somebody who writes what I think and not what I might have been told to write, I am not provided with a ghost writer, let alone a proofreader – and anyway, whoever would dream of publishing the writings of a nonentity!
The few publishing houses who have deigned to reply to the manuscripts I sent them have simply whizzed off one their two preprinted replies. In one I am told: “that it is difficult to place your work in the series that we are considering for publication”. I am tempted to tell these people that Socrates was also difficult to place but let’s not go there. And in the other preprinted reply it says: “ We read your novel (which? I had sent three) with great interest. However, we regret to inform you that unfortunately it is unsuitable for inclusion in our publishing programme.”
So, for one reason or another, as far as Italian editors are concerned, I am non-existent. However, since I am a romantic and I believe in fair play and in being politically correct, as it is fashionable to say these days, I would like to suggest to these people with their preprinted letters that they select whichever one of their novels they like and that I choose one of mine and that the people should read them, and then let’s see which of the two is the better understood and enjoyed .
For me a publisher should set a cultural example, should be a model of ethical, moral, human, intellectual, political, national and international behaviour, providing a place where writers and readers can meet and find meaning and direction in the most spontaneous and natural way imaginable; for me a publishing house is a fountain head, a source, a mirror, a place that should be free of pollution, falsity and corruption. But can our publishing houses be defined in this way?
In my view, both Italian writers and their editors are responsible for the illiteracy in which the population is drowning. People in the world of Charles Dickens in the nineteenth century, read far more books than Italians read now in 2012. The point is that in this country the writers don’t know the people and the people don’t know the writers. There is a reason why they don’t read, why they remain unlettered. And so writers and editors gather the fruits that they have sown: they aren’t read and they don’t sell books. It was inevitable that sooner or later the boomerang would swing round and hit them on the head.
I began to write in my mind when I was a boy, pasturing my flocks (see “Brief autobiography” on my blog) and during the course of my life I have learnt, at a price, to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Italy, the real Italy, and anyone who doesn’t like the stench may hold his nose, does not sell literature or a culture of emancipation, but feeds us a diet of obscurantism and mental slavery (Voltaire, Flaubert, Goethe already understood this). The people, alas, are proof of this sad reality. They have remained a repressed, ignorant, bible-bashing people, sentimental, gullible and bigoted, wretched and starved. Not through any fault of their own of course, but the fault of those who want to keep them like this! Nothing could be more shameful or more degrading for a country which claims to be civilized.
So what is my plea, the plea of a writer in search of an editor? It is this. I am looking for an ambitious editor, one who is open-minded and determined, one who loves and respects his work and his profession, and loves and respects his readers too, and wants to see his country and his people culturally enlightened. He must be shrewd and on the ball, worthy of being a true citizen, not only of Italy but of the whole world. In short I am looking for an editor who will give everyone the chance to breathe a more wholesome air.
So what have I to offer this potential editor? Well, 4 novels, 3 collections of short stories, and 5 essays, just to start with. And since I have just reached the wonderful age of seventy and still have lots of time ahead of me, I look forward to our embarking on this exciting adventure together and to a cooperation in the promotion of my work that will be satisfying for both parties. Moreover, my potential editor should also bear in mind the important fact that I am one of the people and only one of the people is able to speak to the people!
So, my dear would- be editor, step forward boldly, because together, believe me, we will make literature and we will make history, healthy history that is worthy of a human being.