Talk by Italian author on his writing and his papers donated to the library, March 26

Alain Elkann in his office. Provided.
Alain Elkann in his office. Provided.

When internationally renowned Italian novelist and journalist Alain Elkann gave his papers to Cornell University Library in January, he opened up a trove of materials for scholars of contemporary Italian literature, as well as anyone interested in the art of fiction and journalism.

On March 26, 4 p.m., in Carl A. Kroch Library 2B48, Elkann will deliver a talk about his motivations for entrusting his papers to Cornell. He will also share insights about his historical novels that explore various facets of the Italian Jewish experience, and discuss his approach to interviewing prominent public figures ranging from artists to politicians.

“I am proud and honored to have given a large part of my estate to Cornell University Library – manuscripts, letters, drafts of my novels, interviews and short stories, first editions of my works, as well as the original tapes of my interviews,” said Elkann, who has written more than 30 books, and whose work has been translated in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Hebrew, Turkish, Japanese, and English.

“I hope that my manuscripts and other documents can be of help to Cornell faculty and students who conduct research in Italian literature, especially Italian Jewish literature,” Elkann said.

The author will be introduced by K. E. von Wittelsbach, a translator of his novels into English, and a senior lecturer in Romance Studies who also teaches in the Jewish Studies program. Wittelsbach regularly teaches Elkann’s work in her courses, and she had been instrumental in persuading the writer to donate his papers to the library.

After the talk, audience members will get a chance to view examples of Elkann’s books as well as his archival materials donated to the library’s Rare and Manuscript Collections, including handwritten drafts of novels and interview notebooks.

“He wants students to see his process of writing and his core manuscript materials – the little things that fall to the margins when you see the published text,” said Patrick J. Stevens, bibliographer for Jewish Studies and curator of the Fiske Icelandic Collection at Cornell University Library.  “The audience will be able to connect with the materiality of the collection through physical books and the manuscripts behind them,” he said.

Stevens also emphasized that Elkann’s papers are meant to benefit generations of scholars. “We would like this collection to serve and inform a diverse research community, from the 18-year-old student to the 89-year-old emeritus professor and from multiple cultural perspectives,” he said.

The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited to the first 50 attendees. The talk will also be livestreamed.

Additional news from across the university

Recent news from the Library