And we’re off!
It’s the beginning of the long-awaited Book Club – we’re reading Umberto Eco’s bestseller, ‘Il nome della rosa’ together!
Perhaps this is the first time you’ve read a ‘real’ book in Italian, or maybe you’re an old hand like me.
Either way, it’ll be a challenge – it’s a long book, and full of medieval docrinal disputes and erudite quotes in Latin.
Nevertheless, it’s worth a try, I promise.
While we, as a company, enthusiastically produce and publish ‘easy readers’, if you ever want to read authentic Italian texts, you will need to develop a set of skills and strategies to help you.
And actually reading is the only way that that is going to happen. But don’t worry – I’ll be helping you with that as we go along.
Did you know? Though I’ve lived in Italy for over twenty years, I never managed to find time for an Italian course? Which is why my grammar and pronunciation are so bad!
I learnt Italian the hard way, slowly and painfully, by reading. Mostly real books, since you ask – detective novels and so on. But also newspapers, magazines, whatever I could get my hands on, really.
The internet was embryonic in those days, there was no Amazon then, and English-language novels and newspapers were expensive and hard to get. So I didn’t have a lot of choice.
But learn I did, and I’m no linguist, I can assure you. Getting through your first book in Italian is just a matter of starting at the beginning and continuing to turn the pages until the end.
Of course it can, and probably will, take a long time. But the feeling when you get to the end is more than worth it. Like climbing a moutain, but safer. And you’ll learn plenty, I guarantee!
Where was I? Detective novels and newspapers.
Actually, Eco’s ‘Il nome della rosa’ IS a detective novel.
You’re familiar with Sherlock Holmes and his loyal assistant, Dr. Watson?
Well Eco’s sleuth, Guglielmo da Baskerville, is a monk not a ‘consulting detective’. But he’s also a former inquisitor – the sort that discovered heretics and had them burned at the stake!
And Frate Guglielmo, like Holmes, is a bit of an amateur scientist, so a great believer in the powers of logic and deduction.
Guglielmo da Baskerville? Umberto was having a joke, we suppose. The most famous Sherlock Holmes story is ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles‘, which Wikipedia describes as ‘one of the most famous stories ever written’.
So then ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, are we ready to begin?
If you already have a copy of Eco’s story, dig it out, blow the dust off it, and start your engines!
Or, Covid 19 restrictions permitting, run down to your local bookstore and buy a copy in the original Italian, or order one online (we don’t get a cut for telling you to do that.)
If that’s not possible right now, not to worry – I’ll be providing a ‘riassunto’, so you can follow along, starting today with a ‘nota introduttiva’ (in Italian of course).
But first, read our ‘Book Club’ introductory notes: READ ME FIRST.
Done that? Then the Nota Introduttiva is here.
For those who possess an actual copy of the book, start reading this afternoon. You have the whole weekend, too.
Be aware that the first few pages are a bit heavy – don’t let that put you off. Once the action begins, it gets a lot easier.
You have my permission to skip anything you can’t understand (Dr. Watson never really knew what was going on either, remember?)
If you want help or support, don’t email me. LEAVE A COMMENT ON THE NOTA INTRODUTTIVA so everyone can read it. Someone will help you out, reassure you, or at least sympathise, I hope. And if not, I’ll be monitoring comments and will respond if no one else does. Got that? COMMENT, DON’T EMAIL, so everyone can read it.
Monday we’ll be publishing Capitolo 1 of our ‘riassunto’, for those who haven’t managed to get a copy of the real thing. And the discussion will continue on the Capitolo 1 page, the idea being that we’ll chat about each section of the book in the appropriate place (so as to keep things simple and avoid spoilers…)
Not interested in the Book Club?
Then there’s masses of free stuff on the club website you can be getting on with while we intellectuals swap quotes in Latin and discuss differing notions of heresy.
Also, don’t forget to listen to/read the free bulletins of ‘easy’ Italian news at https://easyitaliannews.com/
A lunedì, allora.
Or sooner, in the ‘Comments’ section of the Nota introduttiva.