Pedro Meira Monteiro

Del vizio di leggere o di recitare ad altri i componimenti propri

Leopardi once said he wished he had the genius of Cervantes, so he’d be able to write a book in which he would purge the civilized world of a truly vicious practice, just as Cervantes had purged Spain of spurious chivalry with his Don Quijote. The vicious practice he wanted to abolish was nothing less than the writers’ compulsion to recite their own work to their friends:

There is no time or place at which some innocent person may not be assailed, and subjected on the spot, or be dragged away in order to be subjected, to the torture of listening to interminable prose compositions, or to verses by the thousand. Nor is this cruelty any longer practised under the colorable pretext of desiring an opinion on the merits of these compositions, as used to be the ostensible excuse for such inflictions, but simply and solely for the pleasure it gives to the author to hear the sound of his own productions; and in order that, on the conclusion of his recitation, he may enjoy the extorted applause of his hearers.

Leopardi’s thoughts quite often give me chills. This time, I could but think of how writing a blog would fit perfectly the poet’s description of that “cruelty”, that “vicious practice” of showing your friends your own thoughts, as if they were indeed something worthy of sharing.

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Pedro Meira Monteiro