About The Author
Italian writer, director and performer Alessandro Baricco is the man behind Save the Story, a new initiative to create a library of favourite stories from around the world, retold for today's children by some of the best contemporary writers, including Dave Eggers, Ali Smith, Jonathan Coe, Andrea Camilleri, Umberto Eco and Alessandro himself, who is also the Series Editor. The beautifully illustrated stories span cultures - from Ancient Greece to 19th-century Russia - time and genres, from comedy and romance to mythology and the realist novel, and they have inspired all manner of artists for many generations. The project was executed in close collaboration withThe Scuola Holden in Turin, which was founded specifically to develop new and innovative ways of telling stories in whatever language or medium.
The first books in the series are Don Juan, retold by Alessandro, Captain Nemo by Dave Eggers, Antigone by Ali Smith and Gulliver by Jonathan Coe. There are six more titles scheduled for 2014: Gilgamesh by Yiyun Li, The Betrothed from Umberto Eco, The Nose by Andrea Camilleri; Stefano Benni tackles Cyrano de Bergerac, Melanio Mazzucco presents King Lear and Crime & Punishment is to be written by A B Yehoshua.
Alessandro's works have been widely translated and include the novels Silk, Ocean Sea and a retelling of The Iliad.
Below we talked to him about the idea behind Save the Story and his own personal favourites from among the classics.
Questions & Answers
Why a series of classics for young readers?
The classics are wonderful stories but they were not written for children. Children have such a hunger for wonderful stories, and so we thought that someone needed to retell them specifically for young readers. The idea of Save the Story is that there is an 'elder' - a great writer - who, in place of a father or a grandfather, is sitting there at bedtime recounting one of these immortal stories, telling the story as he remembers it, in his own words. At bedtime, that child listens to a magical story and discovers the same wonder that it sees in the eyes of the mother or father who reads to it. The story becomes a part of that child, it's a way into the classics; it will then have a lifetime to go to the theatre to see Antigone or Don Juan, or to pick up the story of Crime and Punishment once again and read it in its original form.
How did you choose which story to retell?
The story of Don Juan is a story that has always fascinated me. He is an arrogant, shameless, crazy and brave character. Retelling this story to children was a real challenge - it was hard work, but I enjoyed it a lot.
How did you go about making sure they were books to be 'read out loud'?
To start with, there's the length of each book in the series: ten chapters and about an hour's reading. That doesn't mean the book is to be read in one sitting - a chapter or so a night, and the story is completed over the week, and everyone is happy. Also, the length of each chapter is the same, and each chapter has the same gradual progression with an opening and a closing. If the child refuses to let the grown-up, who is telling it the story, turn off the light and go to bed and insists on more, the next chapter is only another 5 minutes long.
What are your favourite classic stories?
I was torn between Don Juan and Moby Dick. I chose the former, but if nobody has the courage to retell the story of Ahab and the white whale then I will do it!
Available Titles By This Author
Laura Paoletti; Ali Smith; Laura...
Alessandro Baricco; Alessandro Maria...
Dave Eggers; Fabian Negrin; Fabian...
Jonathan Coe; Sara Oddi; Sara Oddi
Past Events for this Author