Echoes of Edinburgh and of activism, among museum books and archives to consult the archives. Culture is created by selection, whereas success is guaranteed with peculiarity.
The Luxembourg International Bookshop overlooks Piazza Carignano, in Turin. It was founded in 1874 under the name Libreria Casanova. In 2015 it was counted by the Argentinian magazine Clarín among the ten bookshops to visit. It was included for the aesthetics and for the refined volumes with the Shakespeare & Company in Paris, the Central in Barcelona, the Lello in Oporto (internal link) and the Polare in Maastricht (housed in a Dominican Church of the Thirteenth century). The Luxemburg was originally a branch of the Genoa bookshop Le Beuf and it was taken over by the bookseller Francesco Casanova. It published the first works by Verga and De Amicis and then also included scientific, technical and educational releases, historical guides and the first books about art. Casanova was the first in Italy to introduce the Elzevirian editions, building partnerships in the field of illustration- the series Biblioteca Elzeviriana. He was the first to adopt the photoengraving for the publications and he was appreciated by De Amicis, Serao, Fogazzaro e Verga.
The sign at the entrance has remained the same since the Seventies- The British Bookshop: example of attention of that period to Anglo American fiction, after the collaboration with the publishers Gallimard, Anagrama, Penguin and Random House. Allen Ginsberg went there to read some of his poems, Philip Roth to present his book and Primo Levi went there as well. It became an official meeting place for intellectuals looking for exchanges of rare literary productions. From an article by Fernando Pivano in Corriere on 24th January 1992 titled Ginsberg is coming, full oflaurels and utopias: «Allen Ginsberg came to Italy to open with Philip Glass the celebrations of American culture at the Teatro Regio in Turin on the 24th January […] I remember that reading very well. It had been organized by Angelo Pezzana in his bookshop at his own expense. The adjacent square and streets were packed with boys who did not succeed in coming in and for whom Pezzana improvised a loudspeaker system: the crowd was gathering around four police vans, worried about some possible disorders, at that time so irreconcilable with the terrorism of the following decade».
The reader finds an Italian and English section of essays, classics and new releases. The bookshop is famous for collector’s texts which can be often found in museums only. The volumes live side by side with international magazines, novelties of experimentation and avanguard about the local scene. Since recently Archivio has been available: a magazine specialized in the research of documentary material found in Italian and foreign archives. Gay and transgender literature is also available – Angelo Pezzana, one of the historic owners (bookseller, journalist, writer and politician), founded Fuori! in 1970, the first Italian homosexual liberation movement. He took over the Luxemburg bookshop in 2004 and then he handed over management of the business to Tonino Pittarelli and to his partner Gigi Raiola. The variety of the selection makes the bookshop a reference point for the operators of the Turin artistic field. from design to all the modernist and postmodernist forms.He collaborates with the Circolo dei Lettori and Il Salone del Libro. Pezzana enriched the bookshop activities by including some series devoted to different genres, like cinematography, arts and literature and fostered a photographic collaboration with the Fondazione Piemontese Candiolo for the cancer research.
The walls are covered with posters of films, writers, directors and actors. The disposition of the texts follows a merely aesthetic criterion. Quotations and luminous inserts (neons and lamps) draw attention to the design, root of the Turin artistic activity. The bookshop has two floors, warmed by chromatic and materic choices of the furniture, reminiscent of Edinburgh bookshops, source of inspiration themselves for fictional and magical realities like J.R. Rowling Diagon Alley. The proximity to the Holden School may justify the presence of small emerging realities within the narrative offer, selected by talent, suggestions from the employees and novelties. A whole section is devoted to the volumes read by those who work in the bookshop. It is possible to purchase the wines of the Cantina Vallebelbo, part of the furniture but also of the offer.
On the 29th September the Luxemburg Bookshop hosted Buona la Prima, an exhibition about top-class publishing graphics. The Maurizio Ceccato cover of Assemblea (Ponte alle Grazie), realized for the book by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, was the most voted by the jury. Also the cover of M. Il figlio del secolo by Antonio Scurati (Premio Strega, Bompiani) was exposed. The exhibition, first hosted in the Ex Mulino Cadoni in Villacidro on the occasion of the Premio Dessì week ending on the 29th September, moves from Milan (at Andrea Kerbaker’s Kasa dei Libri) to Turin (at the Luxemburg bookshop) on the 17th October. The format is inserted in terms of innovation of the publishing scene and focuses on the graphics with an authorial point of view. «We are not always dealing with beautiful covers» says Stefano Salir (the curator of the exhibition, journalist and expert in editorial graphics) at a press conference «but they often have charm, they capture with a peculiarity, playing with the paper, the thicknesses. Tributes to old-fashioned graphics are not missing».
Text Danila Giancipoli
Internazionale Luxemburg Bookshop
Via Cesare Battisti, 7