Edgar Colon­nese

[Book­seller and pub­lisher] The owner of the Colon­nese book­store and pub­lish­ing house, one of the most pres­ti­gious in Naples, he man­ages the book­shop at the Reg­gia di Caserta and also owns a part share in Libri & Caffè, the lit­er­ary bistrot at the Mer­cadan

Where Naples Coast & Islands - - ESSENTIALS -

Naples in three ad­jec­tives?

An­ces­tral, sen­sual and like an oxy­moron.

Naples in three snap­shots?

The his­toric cen­tre seen from the hill of Pe­traio, Pi­azza Bellini at sun­set, Nisida seen from via Man­zoni.

If Naples were a song?

‘Apu­cun­dria’, by Pino Daniele. It mir­rors the city’s deep sense of melan­choly to per­fec­tion.

And if it was a book?

About this men­da­cious life, by Giuseppe Mon­te­sano. Its pro­tag­o­nists are the Ne­gro­mante fam­ily, un­scrupu­lous Neapoli­tan en­trepreneurs, the undis­puted lords of the city. They de­cide to build a his­tor­i­cally-themed play­ground in the city and do not hes­i­tate to de­value cen­turies of his­tory to build an op­u­lent Ro­man-style metropo­lis in golden plas­tic and chalk. This re­sults in a veiled un­der­ground up­ris­ing in the small streets of the his­toric cen­tre to op­pose this un­nat­u­ral dis­mem­ber­ment. A won­der­ful book.

The cof­fee rit­ual. Tell us about yours?

I drink too much cof­fee. I like it bit­ter and I drink it slowly, tak­ing small sips.

What is the place ‘dear­est to your heart’ in Naples?

That’s an easy one! My book­shop in via San Pi­etro in Ma­jella, amidst my books, the notes of mu­sic em­a­nat­ing from the nearby Con­ser­va­tory and the well­worn streets that have been trod­den, for cen­turies, by the Neapoli­tan peo­ple.

What role does the cul­ture of books play in Naples?

Naples is not only a real city, with phys­i­cal bound­aries, but also one that is largely rep­re­sented by a se­ries of sto­ries, ideas, nar­ra­tive and vi­sions. Naples lives through the eyes of its au­thors. A sym­bi­otic, al­most nec­es­sary re­la­tion­ship, ex­ists be­tween the city and its books.

Nowa­days, peo­ple tend to read less. What can be done to at­tract new read­ers ?

First and fore­most, pro­duce beau­ti­ful books: there tend to be fewer and fewer around. And then to see new tech­nolo­gies as an op­por­tu­nity rather than a threat; pos­si­bly by in­vent­ing some­thing that will trans­form tra­di­tional ob­jects into new ‘read­able’ ob­jects.

What do books mean to you?

To paraphrase Jorge Luis Borge, “Of the var­i­ous in­stru­ments in­vented by man, the most amaz­ing is the book; all oth­ers are ex­ten­sions of his body… Only the book is an ex­ten­sion of the imag­i­na­tion and mem­ory”.

What is miss­ing in Naples to make it a truly Euro­pean city?

A ‘shared idea’ of the fu­ture. Or rather, come to think of it, also of the past and the present: in Naples no­body agrees about any­thing, and this iso­lates us in a kind of ‘non-his­tory’.

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