Monday, July 4

Germany, Italy and France: experiences of publishing heritage in Europe



In Europe there are different institutions dedicated to preserving the documentary collections of publishers. Depending on the model, either public, private or mixed, the major labels pay an amount to have their most important documents there, which is the mixed system that is applied in France. The material, gathered and kept by specialized staff, is available to researchers, who can access this documentation, usually compiled together with that of other labels and even by authors or disciplines.

One of the first experiences of this kind arose in Germany, with the Marbach Literature Archive, created in 1955 from the documentary heritage of the Suhrkamp publishing house, originally based in Frankfurt. Today the Marbach

brings together the main German-language labels: Bremer Presse, Claassen, Cotta, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Diederichs, S. Fischer, Kippenberg / Insel and Klostermann, among others.

In France the Memories of Contemporary Publishing Institute (IMEC), created in 1988 after the impulse launched by Jack Lang, Minister of Culture with François Mitterand and creator of both the National Book Center and the law that introduced the regulation of the fixed price. One of the models that the French government followed to launch the IMEC was the archive of the Gallimard publishing house, founded by Claude Gallimard in the 70s and which served as a pilot experience for what later became the IMEC. Also historical stamps such as Einaudi and Mondadori in Italy contributed to create a system of classification, order and cataloging of their fundamental editorial and cultural documents.

The Spanish case

Does not exist in Spain no institution of these characteristics, or at least not of this nature. The personal files of publishers, writers and artists have had occasional donations and transfers, such as, for example, the donation that Beatriz de Moura made to the National Library. Among the documentation provided by the founder of Tusquets It ranges from extensive correspondence with Milan Kundera, to original hand-corrected mechanoscripts by Gabriel García Márquez -el ‘Relato de un naufrago’, for example- and Mario Vargas Llosa, or the complete collection of texts sent, later corrected and finally published by Almudena Grandes. The struggle between the national and Catalan governments over the archive of the literary agent was controversial Carmen balcells, which was finally acquired by the Ministry of Culture.

«In the specific case of Anagrama, what we would like, of course, is for it to be in the house and for it to be part of the heritage. But there must be institutions capable of bringing together the different files not only of publishers, but also of translators, authors … “, he raises Silvia Sesé. Undoubtedly, the weight of the French State in defending the book has been one of the most visible aspects of its cultural policy and this is demonstrated in its main projects. According to María Lynch, one of the features of the IMEC is that, in addition to consulting for academic research, it has the ability to approach the general public. “In the center are the notebooks, the correspondence, but also the recordings of other creators, for example musicians. It would be interesting to promote such an initiative in Spain, so as not to lose all that heritage. There are files that obviously have a clear destination, but there are others that are not always bought, but that could be cataloged.

Documentation of the book editing process is important, says Gustavo Guerrero. It’s an exciting topic, he says, both editor and college professor. «The idea now with Spain is to pose a question to the Spanish book chamber, to Spanish publishers and university students. This must be taken into account, because publishing is one of the essential spaces of cultural life. A Spain that wants to have a heritage and a memory must understand that publishing is part of history and its own historical memory.

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