THE BOOK the Sentimental Dictionary (Memoirs and Encounters) by Antonio Carlo Ponti. The review of a long journey of a restless intellectual

To create the Sentimental Dictionary (Futura Libri, 2022) by Antonio Carlo Ponti was his previous collective work, Cosa fareò da grande. “My” Corriere dell’Umbria and much more (101 Edizioni, 2018), which among the potential extrinsications also briefly contains a four-page extended list of “People known or well known who are no longer”, many of you remember already referred to him in “his” “Corriere del’Umbria”, of which he was the first director and later a regular collaborator. Suggested in this way by friends, these names, with the addition of many other creatures, have been enlivened by “memories and encounters of a lifetime”, as the subtitle says, in more than four hundred entries distributed in alphabetical order (from Roberto Abbondanza to Renzo Zuccherini), which take up thirteen pages in the index. The chosen title L’ombra della sera (based on the name of an Etruscan statuette) alludes to the current one
Season of existence tending towards the final equilibrium, in which the figures evoked reappear from the “shadow” of the past (as in the painting depicted on the cover) and harass the memory in its ever clearer features, taking shape and proper place their own experience.

Thus, under the author’s quotes placed with programmatic intention in the section, Ponti can repeat with Edgar Morin “Memories come towards me”, with Paola Soriga “I am all the people I have known, all the stories I have heard, all the houses and Cities I have inhabited » and with Gaston Bachelard « Man is a hive of beings ». To this florilege we can also add, as a variation on the same theme, what Giancristiano Desiderio wrote, emphasizing how the identity of each is shaped by the relationship with other subjects: “For what are we if not the people we have met, whom we have known that we have loved, that we have lost and that we still secretly meet and come to find each other ». In his long professional career as a journalist, writer, art critic, publisher and talent scout, promoter and organizer of exhibitions and cultural events, Ponti has i.a
countless people, fellow journalists, artists, writers, politicians.

He made an initial list that has gradually grown thicker through germination and accumulation, never ending and therefore still open to possible additions. In a few feverish months, in a crescendo of reminiscent furore, Carlo then wandered into his endless library, in which “a life of books” is condensed, for the processing of the texts, in search of dedications, exhibition catalogues, volumes and various publications. attributed to the authors and artists (mostly Umbrian) presented and reviewed by him or at least frequented and in a lasting friendship relationship. I warned in the introduction that the Sentimental Dictionary “is not a kind of monk’s guide, but a repertoire of relationships, encounters, critical judgements, applause and rare pebbles to be removed from one’s shoes”, also made insidiously, “constantly to be under the axe”. of narcissism and egolatry “, the reader should not be surprised if, several times in the profiles, he finds expressions such as ” I start talking about him and end up writing about myself “. In fact, it could not be otherwise, because although I “believe I wrote a book with a spirit of service,
generous, sentimental’, the work is above all an intellectual autobiography, albeit ‘in a new and unusual guise, like a dictionary’, ‘so necessarily full of me’ but also ‘full of kind thoughts for those close to me’. on my way.” With some exceptions for the transcription (also partial) of already published portraits, the voices (including the collective ones), cataloged in a colloquial tone, outline the activity carried out by the various subjects, intertwining them with more intimate anecdotes and curiosities, such as are mentioned in the social gatherings with the verve and zesty taste appropriate to the context, but with a desire to reveal the texture of the marks left by the protagonists in their personal inner lives.

However, the presence of his wife Nerina (to whom the book is dedicated) is constant, his life partner who shared most of these meetings and mutual friendships, so that they appear in many of the photos that accompany the volume, most of them taken by Daniele paparelli. However, as advertised, among the very wide range of names “there is no shortage of allotry voices dedicated to persons or authors not directly known but serving identification and emotion”. The lemmas of Cinnamon the kitten, now “companion of the industrious loneliness” (after the painful death of her beloved Nerina), by Paul Claudel can therefore (with reason) be eccentric, also linked to an episode he shared with his wife in the Spoleto shared Festival and again in homage to her, a “hard and pure unionist”, a voice is reserved for Guglielmo Epifani, who was reminded of his paternal “shadowiness” in their business meetings. Hence, such is his wife’s continued centrality in Carlo’s life that even the autonomous space assigned to Jhumpa Lahiri is due to coincidence, since on the same day and on the same newspaper page the reviews of his plaque for Nerina, L’ estate cold. Love Poems and The Notebook of Nerina by the writer of Bengali origin. In a separate voice, Corciano then acts as a container for many of the VIPs mentioned that Carlo has spoken to in public sessions, as the artistic director of the “Corcianese Summer”, while Leo Longanesi is remembered (so ideally his) as a master of journalism and in particular as prefect of a book by the epigramist and satirical poet Gaio Fratini, a friend and correspondent of Ponti who recently conceived and edited a commemorative volume for Gaius on the centenary of his birth

In order to underline his own strong ethical convictions before ideological ones, Simon Wiesenthal is honored and again proposed as a “prophet” in reference to a show about the Shoah, which is taken from a text by the “Never-Domo-hunter of Nazi criminals”. Interlude I should be proud of” is an article (taken from his “Juvenal” column) that heavily targets Donald Trump. Beginning at the end of the dictionary (letter W), in controversies with the “anonymous censors”,
inserts his own documented map (edited by his friend Luigi Maria Reale), published on Wikipedia and then inappropriately deleted from the digital encyclopedia. Leaving aside the “tips” (in its journalistic field, but not only), the work must be understood as a priority gift to itself, gathering together the many people who have enriched its existence (as happened during the celebrations of his eighty years immortalized in a photo with his friends), but above all certainly grateful to those who belong to have been included in his “sentimental” universe.
Antonio Carlo Ponti, Sentimental Dictionary. Memories and Encounters of a Lifetime, Perugia, Futura Libri, 2022, p. XXI-412 € 25.00

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