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Le letture della Normale – Readings at the Normale

Literature without barriers

The Letture della Normale (readings at the Normale) constitute a long tradition of sharing and culture. Every year, the students of the Scuola Normale organize a collective reading dedicated to a great masterpiece of (Italian or non-Italian) literature: students, lecturers, and citizens of all ages get together to read books from their childhood, or books they have never read before. From Promessi Sposi  to Orlando furioso, from Dante to Leopardi: the Letture are an opportunity to (re) discover literature, all together, without age, gender or nationality barriers.

For the past two years these readings have been preceded by a week of lectures and talks regarding the author and the work to be read, held around the city by top-grade specialists, to talk about literature to everyone, everywhere.

2019: Giacomo Leopardi

In 2019, to celebrate the two hundred years of the poem L’Infinito, almost three hundred readers joined voices for Giacomo Leopardi: from June 18 to 28, readings, lectures and events invaded Pisa. Two Leopardian weeks that celebrated not only the poet of the Canti, but also the caustic, disenchanted author of the Operette morali. It started with prose, on June 18 at 6 p.m. at Palazzo Roncioni, the headquarters of the ETS publishing house on the Lungarno, a feature of the city very much loved by Leopardi, with a reading of some Operette by the students of the reading workshop of the Teatro Sant'Andrea, coordinated by Giovanni Guerrieri of the Sacchi di Sabbia company (with musical interludes by Maestro Carlo Ipata). Further events took place at Palazzo Roncioni on 19 and 20 June, while from 21 to 23 we moved to the evocative Sala Lungarno of the Royal Victoria Hotel, to complete the reading of the 24 Operette written by Leopardi.

From 24 to 27 June a cycle of lectures on the Canti took place, with a focus on the favourite poems of some of the major Italian scholars of Leopardi (the poet from Recanati): on Monday 24 June at 6 p.m., at the Libreria Ghibellina in Borgo Stretto, Stefano Carrai told the story of Il Sabato del villaggio while Francesca Fedi tackled the Palinodia al marchese Gino Capponi. On June 25, at 6 p.m. in the Sala Stemmi of the Scuola Normale a lectio magistralis was given by Luigi Blasucci on L’Infinito, Leopardi's most famous poem; the year 2019 marked its first two hundred years. On June 26 at 6 p.m., at the Domus Mazziniana,  Corrado Bologna and Antonio Prete  introduced and recounted Il pensiero dominante. The events ended with an artistic excursus also open to a younger audience: on June 27 at 5 p.m., at the bookshop Gli anni in tasca on the Lungarno, Marco Somà talked about the illustrated edition of the Infinito published by Einaudi ragazzi, as well as on how to draw a poem.

The climax of the Leopardi weeks took place on the evening of June 28, at 9 p.m. in the Cloister of the Palazzo della Carovana, home of the Scuola Normale, with three hours of musical, sound and visual performance. Over 150 readers took turns at reading Leopardi's Canti, while their voices were sampled and transformed into a rhythmic score by Campos, a Pisan band specialized in electronic music, who performed live in an unprecedented performance. The readers' voices also commanded a fabric of images that were projected on the walls of the courtyard of the building, curated live by Michele Fiaschi and Andrea Brogi. Music, words and images thus came together in a monument made up of many arts and intended to celebrate and remember, by rereading him, one of the greatest authors of our literature.

The cycle of events was curated by the students of the SNS, and coordinated, as always, by Giovanni Guerrieri of the Sacchi di Sabbia company. All meetings were open to everyone, completely free of charge.

2018: Promessi sposi

From  September 14th at 7 p.m. to September 15th at 7 p.m., the Normale organized an uninterrupted collective reading of the Promessi sposi at the Palazzo della Carovana. Access was free of charge.

Not twenty-five readers, as Manzoni envisaged, but two hundred and fifty: students, lecturers and citizens took it in turns to read from " Quel ramo" to  "sugo di tutta la storia".

The reading was preceded by a cycle of lectures and itinerant talks dedicated to the great novel. From 10 to 13 September, the Promessi Sposi invaded Pisa: lecturers, actors and artists talked about their favourite chapters of the novel, and read the salient passages. Fra Cristoforo and Cervantes, Azzeccagarbugli and his study, Gertrude and the plague, the illustrations: four insights to prepare for reading.