Lorenzo Mondo's library

The entire personal library of Lorenzo Mondo, passed away in 2022, now has a new home  in a dedicated room on the second floor of Fondazione Cesare Pavese.

Following the death of Lorenzo Mondo – journalist, literary critic and formerly the director of La Stampa – occurred on 19 April 2022, his family decided to donate his personal library to Fondazione Cesare Pavese. The library is now hosted in a dedicated room inaugurated on the occasion of the Pavese Festival 2023, on the second floor of Fondazione Cesare Pavese next to the Pavese museum.

«We couldn’t hope for anything better: – his daughter Monica confided to us in a video interview – that what my father treasured the most beside his wife and children, namely his books, ended in the only place he wished for. Books that he had accurately chosen from the humblest editions found on the stalls in via Po when he was a penniless student who worked to pay for college to all those that he had received from important writers later on, when he was a literary critic for La Stampa. I personally met many of these writers and thus it is really tender to be able to see their inscriptions, to read their letters, so they are not just books, they are always linked to faces who have left traces on the books themselves or in the correspondence […] If I think of the affinity, the harmony, the sympathy between my father and Cesare Pavese, I think of various things: I think of the language, of the history, but especially to the land. This Langa land that for my father had become – through Pavese – a spiritual home». A symbolic reunion, this one between Mondo and Pavese in Santo Stefano Belbo, that makes Fondazione Cesare Pavese a major reference point for 20th-century Italian literature.

Lorenzo Mondo’s library is composed of 5 thousand books of modern and contemporary literature with letters and inscriptions from the authors (among them Primo Levi, Eugenio Montale, Italo Calvino and many other big names of 20th-century literature). The texts are accompanied by a series of important and original documents, such as Cesare Pavese’s secret notebook, an epistolary exchange with Natalia Ginzburg on the notebook itself, a copy of Massimo Mila’s diary describing the day of Pavese’s funeral, along with notes and correspondence with all the 20th-century major writers. The secret notebook and the correspondence between Mondo and Ginzburg are the protagonists of new set up of the Dialoghi Room at the Pavese Museum, which usually hosts the Molina and Vaudagna collections now on display within the exhibition Pavese ospita Calvino.
The secret notebook is a 29-sheet notebook written mostly in pencil by Cesare Pavese that had remained unknown until Lorenzo Mondo found it among a series of papers he obtained for consultation from Pavese’s sister Maria Sini, in the early ’60s. In that period Mondo was curating Pavese’s epistolary for Einaudi publishing house, together with Italo Calvino, the only person he shared his discovery with. Being quite controversial notes, Mondo decided not to publish them: he entrusted the notebook to Calvino, who suggested him to make a copy in case he needed them for his studies. The notebook remained secret until after Pavese’s sister (1983) and Italo Calvino (1985) had died. Only then, Mondo presented the text to Pavese’s nieces who agreed to publish it. The notebook appeared unabridged on La Stampa on 8 August 1990, causing a huge clamor in the media. Pavese’s friend and writer Natalia Ginzburg, in particular, firmly rejected the operation, sending a series of letters about it to Mondo.

Photo: Fabjo Hazizaj