Snippet: gloomy feelings among the literati in Spain (summer 2015)

The culture journalist Antonio Iturbe (Zaragoza, 1967; blog (Spanish)) entitled his weekly column llibrescopi [bookscope] “‘Ciao’, Literatura” and had some gloomy observations, excerpts here:

In a kingdom where the book industry generates 0.7% of GDP … the Administration treats the book sector with monumental contempt. I receive a note signed by teachers from two high schools in Barcelona in which they explain that, following the advice of the [controversial education law] LOMCE, they have shaved the subjects of Spanish and Catalan literature. Up to now in the Social Science and Humanities curriculum, these were subjects of four hours weekly. In the coming school year “they are reduced to two hours weekly and, what is more, they do not count for the high school leaving exam …; thus, the possibilities that they are chosen by the students have been reduced considerably.” [The teachers want a correction of the law] so that literature recovers the status that corresponds to it -for obvious reasons- in a Humanities study plan. Here, what should be obvious, is never so. The politicians think that the fostering of reading consists of programming four spots per year with a nice slogan.

[Iturbe continues with the conversation he had with the president of the Spanish publisher’s federation, Daniel Fernández.] The turnover of the book sector has shrunk by 33% between 2010 and 2014. [Fernández:] “we are bigger than the movie industry, but largely ignored.” And with reference to support for books and for their academic importance: “The societies that have the highest reading indices are those with the highest prosperity indices. The big failure of [the Spanish] democracy is that after 40 years we are bigger, richer and even more tattooed… but we are not more cultivated nor reading more. The thing is that 35% of the population never ever read a book. …”

[Fernández points to the big problem of piracy of digital content in Spain, and he doesn’t understand that politicians have been able to force people to drive a motorcycle wearing a helmet or to smoke outside of restaurants, but are not able to stop online piracy, out of fear of losing votes in the following elections, according to Fernández.]

SOURCE: A. Iturbe, “”‘Ciao’, Literatura””, “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, July 4, 2015, p. 14 (printed edition)

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