Peace Prize for Claudio Magris

Italian writer Claudio Magris received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, one of the most prestigious prizes for literature worldwide.

I’ve mentioned his fantastic book „Danube – A sentimental journey from the source to the Black Sea a few months ago.

In his acceptance speech Magris cautioned against a new populism and new boundaries in Europe which would create „democraties without democracy“. He also observed the sometimes invisible borders between natives and immigrants in the big European cities. „Europe awaits the big and difficult task to keep open towards the new cultures of the new Europeans from all over the world, which could enrich the continent’s diversity“.

He lamened the present weakness and disruption of Europe in addition to complacency and ignorance. “We cradle ourselves in the illusion that we live without war" because Europe's borders are now peaceful and largely open.

The Third War has already happened: about 20 million people dead. after 1945. „War is not only the the massacre in Biafra or 9/11 in New York. War is also murder by the Mafia or the trading with children’s organs.

Cladio Magris also critized the „curtailing of justice“ in his own country.

Here’s more.

Here you can read his essay "The Fair of Tolerance" for which he received the Erasmus Prize in 2001.


Hattie said...

Francesa: I thank you for linking this essay. As I read the first part, I noted that the moral-ethical system of "Europe" was based on the tension between organized religion and the Enlightenment. And in modern times, cultural conflicts and various "cultisms" have come to the fore as the main causes of social turmoil. That and the ongoing valorization of the individual. It's the same here as far as these matters go. This state of affairs has led to confusion, to say the least. But in the final analysis, Americans all know, whether or not they choose to deny it, that ours is a government of laws, not "men."
What makes the U.S. different is that our government was founded on a specific document, The Constitution with The Bill of Rights, which excluded religious governance and protected the rights of the individual.
The final decision to integrate American schools, the American example of social conflict that Magris uses, was made by the Supreme Court, interpreter of the Constitution. The same is true of abortion rights, a matter which was settled in 1972 by the Supremes. Of course the many many Americans who claim not to accept the rule of law, including our former President and his hencemen, continue to agitate for their beliefs. But the issue is clear, whereas in Europe it is more confused.
Americans don't write essays like this. We write opinion, journalism, or scholarly work with lots of footnotes. A work like this that makes no claim to the final answers but engenders thought is very useful.
This is a rich essay.
I guess I'm going to write extensively about this on my blog, though it will take me a few days, probably.
A footnote:I was so interested in Italy recently to note that the cab drivers were exercising their right not to wear seatbelts and to smoke like chimneys! And to chat upon their cell phones while tailgaiting the car in front of them at 80 km an hour! Rome is a kind of anarchy that you might say works, except that it must be virtually impossible for old people to move around town.

francessa said...

Hattie, these are very interesting remarks, thank you!

At the moment, I'm thinking about the differences in writing you mentioned. I've always admired the American way of writing, the opinion/journalistic way - something the Europeans never seem to manage that well. But you've made me see the other aspect, the thoughtful, maybe even contemplative European ways. After all, the essay was developed in France.

I'm very much looking forward to your blogposts.

Hattie said...

I hope I haven't given myself too huge a task here!

francessa said...

I haven't been in Italy for some years.I've been told there are lots of changes (for the worse). But the driving habits seem to have survived.

Lydia said...

I just took a little tour.....read Hattie's comments and zipped over to her blog to see if she'd posted about this topic yet, then became involved in several of her recent posts. But I'm back to say that this was so interesting to me, and of course I learned from it. This important award sure seems to have been bestowed on the right writer!

Hattie said...

Illness has knocked me back and I'm way behind on various projects.
I may not get around to this one, alas.

francessa said...

Absolutely, Lydia. I read his essay for the second time and discovered more interesting strands of thought.

Hattie, don't stress yourself! Your very first posting has made me think a lot about the differences between the US and Europe. There'll be more opportunities for discussion!

Hope you're better again!

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