Autumn 2019 Newsletter


Autumn 2019 Newsletter

This fall has brought and is bringing all sorts of wonderful news, as well as many dear friends, to Santa Maddalena.

First and foremost, we are delighted that the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature, announced today after a year’s postponement, has been awarded to Olga Tokarczuk, a fellow at Santa Maddalena in 2014. Her novel Flights was shortlisted for the 2019 Premio Gregor von Rezzori.

Olga Tokarczuk at the 2019 Premio Gregor von Rezzori

About her time at Santa Maddalena, Tokarczuk has said:

During our discussions we agreed that writer is someone who resembles a magic garden: the less it is cultivated the better it grows. We also agreed that the space of Santa Maddalena estate must be closed in itself. It is a kind of a nest, or better, a tame fortress where one can feel claustrophobic and alternately, have a feeling of primal safety.

However I think that the real good spirit of this place, its basic and real principle and modus vivendi is Beatrice, who had changed an old ruined farm into so magic a place, the place of art, the work of art.

This week at Santa Maddalena, we are also pleased to welcome Jennifer Clement, the author most recently of Gun Love and a fellow in 2014. Jennifer is scheduled to deliver the Lectio Magistralis for the Premio Gregor von Rezzori on June 3rd, 2020.

Jennifer Clement on one of her visits to Santa Maddalena

Jennifer is the current president of PEN International and has come to us after attending the 85th annual PEN congress in Manila. At the congress, PEN issued, after an unanimous vote, a new manifesto in support of the right to free expression. As strong proponents of that right, we are proud to share the text of the manifesto below:


The opening of the PEN International Charter states that literature knows no frontiers. This speaks to both real and, no less importantly, those imagined.

PEN stands against notions of national and cultural purity that seek to stop people from listening, reading and learning from each other. One of the most treacherous forms of censorship is self-censorship —where walls are built around the imagination and often raised from fear of attack.

PEN believes the imagination allows writers and readers to transcend their own place in the world to include the ideas of others. This place for some writers has been prison where the imagination has meant interior freedom and, often, survival.

The imagination is the territory of all discovery­ as ideas come into being as one creates them. It is often in the confluence of contradiction, found in metaphor and simile, where the most profound human experiences reside.

For almost 100 years PEN has stood for freedom of expression. PEN also stands for, and believes in, the freedom of the empathetic imagination while recognizing that many have not been the ones to tell their own stories.


  1. We defend the imagination and believe it to be as free as dreams.
  2. We recognize and seek to counter the limits faced by so many in telling their own stories.
  3. We believe the imagination accesses all human experience, and reject restrictions of time, place, or origin.
  4. We know attempts to control the imagination may lead to xenophobia, hatred and division.
  5. Literature crosses all real and imagined frontiers and is always in the realm of the universal.

And that’s not all. Colm Tóibín, great friend and one of the first fellows of Santa Maddalena, had a triumphant season in Italy.

Colm Tóibín and Beatrice Monti della Corte at the 2019 Premio Gregor von Rezzori

First, at the end of September, he went to Capri to receive the Premio Malaparte. Following this, on the 4th of October, he attended the premiere of the opera Winter’s Journey, for which he wrote the libretto, at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. The composer is Ludovico Einaudi; Roberto Andó directed. The opera, which has received rave reviews, dramatizes the bitter struggle of immigrants seeking to arrive in Italy by sea.

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