London: Alessandro Scafi
Italian Cultural Institute in London
Monday 20 February, 6pm
L’uomo con le radici in cielo by Alessandro Scafi
Book presentation with the author taking part in a round table with Professor John Took, art historian Martina Mazzotta and author Leon Conrad
Far from being just a human and medical account of suffering and recovery, a private and extremely intense, sometimes dramatic, vicissitude, Alessandro Scafi’s remarkably well-written and powerful book L’uomo con le radici in cielo (Societa’ Editrice Milanese) is much more: a meditation on life and death, on God and man, on the balance between freedom, vocation and fate.
Alessandro is a lecturer on Cultural History, a Dante enthusiast, and an expert on Eden’s cartography. It is not easy to locate Paradise on earth, and his work is an on-going search for this “other” dimension to which he also aspires. He is a daydreamer, always looking for a new adventure, and at the same time he perceives the necessity of a more elevated kind of love, an ideal structure of feelings able to reconcile the needs of the body and those of the spirit.
But then, suddenly, the dizziness induced by beauty becomes physical dizziness. Alessandro is poorly, so much so that he can hardly stand up and Charlotte, an old flame, comes to his help. The diagnosis of a brain tumour brings a drastic change to Alessandro’s lifestyle and becomes the starting point of a deeper reflection on the mechanisms of life and relationships.
Alessandro’s story becomes an invitation to all, to get through the Hell’s ego to the Paradise beyond.
Alessandro Scafi is Senior Lecturer on Medieval and Renaissance Cultural history at the Warburg Institute, SAS, University of London. He is the author of Mapping Paradise: A History of Heaven on Earth and Maps of Paradise (London and Chicago, 2006 and 2013). He has published on various aspects of the history of cartography, pilgrimage, Aby Warburg, and on Italian art and literature, in particular on Dante and Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini.
Martina Mazzotta is an art historian and exhibition curator with a great passion for literature. Among her main areas of research are the relationships between philosophy, art and science in early modern encyclopaedic collections. Her main exhibitions this year – held in Italy and France – are both devoted to Max Ernst. She is an Associate Fellow at the Warburg Institute, University of London.
John Took is Professor Emeritus of Dante Studies at University College London and the author of a number of books on Dante including most recently, Dante (Princeton University Press, 2020) and Why Dante Matters (Bloomsbury Continuum, also 2020).
Leon Conrad is the author of Story and Structure: A complete guide, which won a number of literary awards and was shortlisted for The People’s Book Prize.