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5 March 2014

"Mediterranean, sea of peoples"

Lecture by Erri de Luca

The Neapolitan poet and translator Erri de Luca spoke of mixing and promiscuity as a shared heritage of all the Mediterranean peoples in a lecture he gave on 13 March 2014 as part of the Open City cycle.

[Original version in Italian | duration 01:31]

On Monday 13 March 2014 the Neapolitan poet and translator Erri de Luca visited the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) as one of the speakers in the Open City lecture cycle. Introduced by the Argentine publisher Valeria Bergalli, he titled his lecture “Mediterranean, Sea of Peoples” and, in it, he upheld mixing and promiscuity as values common to all the cultures of the Mediterranean shores, stating that, “the fact of having the blood of all the peoples” is a “shared heritage” of everyone who lives in the Mediterranean. He also confesses that he “would like to have precise knowledge” of his “ancestral lineage” and of the “peoples and proportions in which it is made”, for example “what percentage is Spanish, Hebrew or Phoenician”. He believes that confirming these shared origins implicitly entails the need to maintain or re-establish the conditions that foster harmonious coexistence and fraternity in opposition to the numerous conflicts and wars that have also occurred between the Mediterranean peoples. Giving an example of coexistence, he cites his own city where “you always hear shouts, laughter and what’s happening in the narrow streets”, to such an extent that “everyone knows all about everyone else because there is only one acoustic environment”. He explains that languages like Neapolitan and Yiddish, which he translates, are fast and precise because they are the product of densely-populated neighbourhoods where everyone talks at once and interruptions are constant. Only the sea is able to stop the pandemonium, this shared sea where, for the people of Naples, “the city necessarily comes to an end and is left behind” and “the wind blowing in your face makes the sounds disappear”. De Luca finds, at this frontier between city and Mediterranean, a perfect metaphor for the writer’s profession because, for him, writing consists in extracting what is essential from the clamour in which we live. It is like the salty crust left on the rocks when the sea water has evaporated.

 This event is part of the "Europe City" initiative

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