The Power of Simplicity
12 9 2020
The Power of Simplicity

Antonio Manzini and Daniele Mencarelli on writers and the craft of writing


In Piazza Sordello, Antonio Manzini, screenwriter and author of Pulvis et Ombra and Ah l’amore l’amore and Daniele Mencarelli, poet and author of Tutto Chiede Salvezza, winner at the Giovani section of Premio Strega 2020, talk about their works and what it means to be a writer. Manzoni and Mencarelli met in the hallways at RAI headquarters in Rome, where they both worked, and have been friends over since.

Manzini introduces Mencarelli’s use of language in Tutto Chiede Salvezza and describes his prose as “apparently simple, but actually very intense”. The language is very poetic but unrefined, “the power of simplicity” he calls it. What’s the role of the author in this? Mencarelli believes that he must be as impartial as possible: as an author, judging the story and the characters is not allowed, only the readers can experience a subjective view of what happens. He uses an approach based on “maturity”, which he defines as the ability to see the shades of grey opposed to the good/evil dichotomy. As a matter of fact, characters in Tutto Chiede Salvezza are neither good or bad, they suffer and crave to be both authentic and accepted by society as young people do; they go through many ordeals but there’s always hope around the corner.

As both Manzini and Mencarelli have worked in television, another question is about the difference between cinema, TV, theatre and literature. For Mencarelli, literature “saves” the memory of readers, as every reader can create their own story and is the most valuable and engaging written art form; to Manzini, its evocative power is boundless, while cinema does not leave any space to imagination, as you literally get what you see. In this sense, reading is a private experience shared only by the reader, the book and the writer.