THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. CON I PIEDI NEL FANGO: CONVERSAZIONI SU POLITICA E VERITÀ (With Your Feet in The Mud: Conversations About Politics and Truth) by Gianrico Carofiglio (with Jacopo Rosatelli)

“Political thinkers, in general, can be divided into two classes: the Utopian with his head in the clouds and the Realist with his feet in the mud.” (George Orwell)

Four quasi-Platonic dialogues between Gianrico Carofiglio and political researcher Jacopo Rosatelli on the subject of politics, integrity, responsibility and the manipulation of language. A clear, concise and to-the-point exchange of ideas that cannot fail to provoke thoughts and questions on the part of the reader. A book that made me shout, “Yes!” and, “That’s right!” at every page. Con i piedi nel fango lives up beautifully to Boileau’s words: “Whatever is well conceived is clearly said, And the words to say it flow with ease.” A deeply satisfying, 112-page book for the freethinker. 

Three questions to the author: 

KG: Let’s talk about Con i piedi nel fango. How did you decide to format this book almost like a Platonic dialogue?

GC: I wanted to avoid a didactic, vaguely patronising tone, so the dialogue format seemed most appropriate. I liked the prospect of ideas flowing more organically, as part of a conversation.

KG: The title of the book is a quotation from an article by George Orwell, in which he describes two kinds of political thinkers – the “utopian with his head in the clouds” and the “realist with his feet in the mud”.  Which kind do you think prevails in the world nowadays? Why?

GC:  To quote Orwell, the book presents a third way in addition to his two theories: the need to step into the mud when necessary, but to still keep looking straight ahead and not lose sight of values. It is this very act of looking straight ahead and focusing on values that is sadly lacking in the actions – as well as the theorising – of many world leaders.

KG: I am sorry to have to mention the current Coronavirus situation. Could you comment on the way language is being used during this crisis?

GC: It is a sad example of (an attempt at) manipulating language on the part of populist leaders all over the world, guided by Trump and his grotesque attempts to minimise what is happening. They’ve tried to deny reality, thereby exposing their countries and the entire world to detrimental, potentially catastrophic consequences.

By Katherine Gregor

CON I PIEDI NEL FANGO: CONVERSAZIONI SU POLITICA E VERITÀ (With Your Feet in The Mud: Conversations About Politics and Truth)

by Gianrico Carofiglio (with Jacopo Rosatelli) (Edizioni Gruppo Abele, 2018) Non-Fiction

Read an excerpt Con i piedi nel fango, translated by Katherine Gregor.

With thanks to Rosaria Carpinelli Consulenze Editoriali, Milan.

Currently on the bestseller list in Italy: Roberto Burioni, Virus, la grande sfida (Rizzoli, March 2020); Elena Ferrante, Storia di chi fugge e che resta (e/o, 2011); Gianrico Carofiglio, La misura del tempo (November 2019). 

Recently published in English translation: The Last Homeland by Matteo Righetto (second volume of a trilogy that began with Soul of the Border) translated by Howard Curtis (Pushkin Press, 26 March 2020).

Katherine Gregor grew up in Italy and France before going to university in England.  She has been a theatrical agent, press agent, teacher and one or two other things before becoming a literary translator from Italian, French and, on occasion, Russian.  She also writes original material and is currently working on a non-fiction book.

Category: The Italianist: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About


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