Work as condemnation, law, utopia: the 5th edition of the Classical Festival of the Circolo dei Lettori of Turin is open

The event is chaired by Luciano Canfora

Why was Adam condemned to work? Because he had succumbed to the desire to draw from the tree of knowledge. It is with this scene that human history begins, according to a tradition that risked establishing itself as historical truth. Precisely work, from antiquity to the future, is at the center of the Classical Festival in its 5th edition – conceived by the Fondazione Circolo dei Lettori of Turin.

The event, chaired by Luciano Canfora and curated by Ugo Cardinale, takes place in the Piedmontese capital until Sunday 4 December with readings, lessons, meetings and performances with great names from the world of entertainment culture, such as Anna Bonaiuto, Ascanio Celestini, Eva Cantarella , Christian Greco, Francesca Mannocchi, Ivano Dionigi, Gian Luigi Beccaria, Maurizio Bettini, Massimo Cacciari and many others.

The topics examined all revolve around work such as condemnation, law and utopia. In its dramatic declinations and in its creative and constructive impulses, it is the field of reflection of the Festival which reconnects our most ancient roots to the present with great guests, and thanks to the presence of students and scholars, pupils and academics who give voice to classical texts , making them current, in an open comparison with today’s culture and society.

The theme of work is therefore addressed from different points of view: philosophical, philological, historical, social, political, linguistic. Aimed at young people, high school students, university students, privileged users and protagonists of the project, high school and university teachers, lovers of the ancient world and a non-specialist public, the event aims to rekindle the spotlight on the most urgent needs of the contemporary world, with an analysis anchored in the memory of the past, but open to future challenges.

In this archetypal scene two obscurantist concepts converge: knowledge must be foreclosed, work is a disvalue, indeed a condemnation. Fortunately, humans have accepted the challenge and have followed an opposite path: they have fought to gain ever greater knowledge and have very painstakingly restored dignity to work. This was the longest and most painful journey. The illusionistic image, hard to die, of a classical age harmoniously divided between artistic creation and the ‘profession of citizen’ hides, or leaves in the shadows, the most shocking reality of that world: work as the destiny of those who have lost personal freedom or never had it.

“Hence the birth of utopias -explains President Canfora- which sometimes outline or dream of a golden age, a world without work; hence also the explosion of rebellions of rare bitterness; hence finally the crisis of conscience, and self-confidence, which erodes the hegemonic classes from within. A bumpy journey at the end of which it seemed – but only seemed– that freedom and work rejoined”.

“A primordial creative gesture, a human vocation par excellence – comments Elena Loewenthal, director of the Fondazione Circolo dei Lettori – but also a sign of that effort to live which cannot be escaped, work is a fascinating theme. This is why it is at the center of dialogues and meetings that cross eras and cultural universes, in a kaleidoscope of interpretation united by the desire to debunk clichés and bring ancient myths into our present, without ever giving up an original vision”.

“We will talk about law, the emancipation of ancient and modern slaves and the dignity of work – comments Ugo Cardinale, curator of the Festival del Classico – We will also address the theme in its utopian dimension, from the regret of a world without work in the Land of Cockaigne and the ‘Island of the blessed to the projects of an ideal city, such as Thomas More’s Utopia, the exact counterpoint of the real city, where one works less and everyone works, a desired goal also for the present of the Great Resignation”

New to this edition is the “Read it and tell it” contest, conceived on the Ted Talk model and created in collaboration with the Piedmont Regional School Office, the Polo del ‘900, the Liceo Classico D’Azeglio and the Scuola Holden. Fourth and fifth year high school students in Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta are invited to read and then comment, in a three-minute video, on a narrative text dedicated to the world of work. A jury will select the top three teams from among the finalists who will compete live.