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In Search of Lost Books. The forgotten stories of eight mythical volumes



In Search of Lost Books. The forgotten stories of eight mythical volumes

Presentation of the book by Giorgio van Straten
With Giorgio van Straten and Ian Thomson

Whatever happened to the books that once existed and can no longer be found? Not the forgotten books, or those dreamed up by the author yet never written, but books that were completed, even read, before being destroyed or vanishing into thin air.

These are the mythical books that were burnt, torn, stolen, or simply disappeared, but which certainly existed. In this elegiac and gripping volume, Giorgio van Straten is by turns detective and spy, traveller and scholar, as he sifts through clues, pursues leads, and interviews experts to discover the stories of these eight lost tomes, and their authors. His pursuit takes him around the world, and across decades, to discover serendipitous encounters and unexpected connections.

From Byron’s England to Sylvia Plath’s, and on to France in the 1920s and Hemingway, across Gogol’s Russia and from there to the Spanish frontier where Walter Benjamin tried to flee his destiny, from Nazi-occupied Poland where Bruno Schulz was killed in an argument between German officers and finally to a remote village in Canada where Malcolm Lowry took refuge.

Romano Bilenchi, The Avenue
Lord Byron, Memoirs
Ernest Hemingway, Juvenilia
Bruno Schulz, The Messiah
Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls (part II)
Malcolm Lowry, In Ballast to the White Sea
Walter Benjamin, What was in the Black Suitcase
Sylvia Plath, Double Exposure

These are the lost books.


Giorgio van Straten is a writer and manager of arts organizations. He has written several novels and a book of short stories, and in 2000 he won the Viareggio Award for Il mio nome a memoria, published in English as My Name, A Living Memory (2003). From 1985 to 2002 van Straten was the chairman of the Orchestra della Toscana. From 1997 to 2002 he was on the Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia and in 1998-2002 he also served as president of AGIS, the Italian association for the performing arts. From 2002 to 2005 he was general director of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. From 2005 to 2008 he managed the Palazzo delle Esposizioni e Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome. From 2009 to 2012 he was on the board of directors of RAI, the state broadcaster. In 2015 he became the director of the Italian Cultural Institute of New York.

Ian Thomson is an award-winning biographer, reporter, translator and literary critic. He has translated the Sicilian crime writer Leonardo Sciascia, Death of an Inquisitor and Other Stories (Harvill, 1990) and in 2002 he was awarded the Royal Society of Literature’s W.H.Heinemann prize for Primo Levi: A Life (Hutchinson, 2002). He writes for a variety of newspapers and journals, including the Observer, Spectator, Guardian, Financial Times, Times Literary Supplement, London Review of Books.



Date: Friday, November 24, 2017

Time: From 7:00 pm To 8:30 pm

Organized by : IIC Londra

Entry : Free


IIC Loindra