Tuesday, 28 June 2005

Petrarca and Inferno

The beach was a hoot, apart from the sunburn. But it's healing nicely now, so don't worry. I hadn't seen Emilia's nieces in 5 years and they have completely grown up. It's incredible.

This week we've got a week of double classes, i.e. a morning and afternoon session. What was originally planned was about 5 scholars talking about Petrarch. That's what was on the programme originally. Somehow this has transformed itself into an editorial committee of everyone working on a new edition of the complete works of Petrarch. What has happened is that one of the main guys decided to get everyone together and to do a kind of progress report on the edition. The doctoral students are utterly and completely excluded from this exercise. Betsy, my crazy American friend, said that it sounds like a typical summer school. But actually this is not a summer school at all - these are the normal classes for the doctorate of this institute. What has happened is that their classes have been hijacked, if you like, and they've been left out in the cold. The 'lectures', which are 15 - 20 mins long, by a whole series of illustrious filologists and famous people, are directed at eachother, not at students. There is no attempt to direct anything at them. And, furthermore, one famous Petrarch scholar has brought his doctoral students from another city, to participate. It's just that they are being treated as guests, so they all go out to lunch and dinner, with the speakers etc. So there is a complete separation of us and them.
Don't get me wrong: what's going on is very very interesting, and it's exciting to put faces on all the famous names. Really. I would also like to say that the only academic who has bothered, so far, to direct a word to the natives is Silvia Rizzo. It just goes to show that the greats are so often blessed with magnanimitas. As for the rest, guardo, e passo.

On top of this, and maybe making it worse, is the heat. Really, it is so hot I can hardly think straight. Yesterday it was more than 38 degrees (that's celsius, yeah...like 450 Fahrenheit), and as bad today. Oh my god. You cannot imagine how uncomfortable it is to feel and hot AND not understand anything that's being said in class. You feel like jumping up in class and shouting out: "Is it hot in here or is it just me? AM I THE ONLY ONE DYING HERE!!"

Today we had lunch at the apartment of three of those on the course, Anna, Ilaria, and Stefano. It was delightful. They prepared a wonderful rice dish, and then we had anguria. Yummy.

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