In considering the catalog for Biblioteca Adelphi, one of the things which struck me early on was authors who seemed missing. Initially, just those who seemed oddly not published. Why no Beckett, I wondered, in the early days. Why only one Kafka?
I collected authors who seemed of similar times and calibers, but weren’t on the list, to think about later. I also started to look in to those authors who had been published by the other big Italian houses, books already in translation, in circulation, wondering if this would keep Adelphi from publishing.
[n.b. I still haven’t yet still mean to look at the publishing history of all the non-Italian books, in Italy. Was Adelphi the first to publish the book in translation, the first to release it in Italy, in Italian? I am very curious about this, as it aligns to some thinknig I have been doing on the type of effects a publishing concern has on the culture, by the choices of books released. It also engages in a spatial imagination, was there a path of thought that Adelphi wanted to bring into Italy, and these books, in this order were the ones to carry along their readers? ]
Back, however, to where I was going. Missing books. I eventually realized that the books all have hope, the ones published, so hopeless books didn’t fit the pattern. (I am not done, so more data may change this assumption.) Beckett, pretty hopeless, right?
I am re-reading the 20th century chapters of A Universal History of the Destruction of Books by Fernando Baez which brings up the other side of missing. Which books were destroyed, never to have the opportunity to be published by Adelphi? So many books are from the early 20th century, mitteleuropa, that this must have created a notable loss. Right?
The other piece of this of course is the Vatican’s banned books list, which I would think had even more weight upon what could be produced in Italy. It was done away with in 1966. It is the question, I would think, not only of the books which were banned but of the authors who could not write.
Taking this further of course (and yes, I have pondered this), is all the books not written due to the deaths and wars and the like. This becomes a different view in the 80s when AIDs starts to kill artists and writers in numbers, and there is the question of who thrived in the gaps, versus what was lost.
Thought exercises that don’t have bearing, really, because there is no data and it is all supposition. But interesting to map gaps and loses, if only to regard the shapes.