Twenty four Gemme

The care of words

To return to words, to their “existence” that precedes us; to give voice to their energy in order to listen to it and to make it express creation, life, thought, relationship, interpretation; to escape from the instrumental use of language that not only standardises our vocabulary but also impoverishes our ability to interpret and change the world: this is the project “Gemme” by Rosenberg & Sellier.

This project aims to start a journey through 24 books and 24 lessons about 24 words.
Each author offers an authentic and perhaps unexpected message that provokes thoughts and arouses the curiosity, while also providing the means to continue the research.

The authors – well-known and highly regarded authorities in their field – address an audience of curious and active readers and listeners: they want to raise queries rather than offer solutions, to make questions rather than give answers, to suggest openness, not closure.
The authors adopt a dialogical style that is able to engage the listeners and the readers.
Their voice is to be listened to online, in libraries, at events, and it can be read in the 24 slim volumes of the series.

We live in very unpleasant times  as regards language; not only do I refer to blatant lies, I also think, at least as far as Italy is concerned, about the increasing irrelevance of language. [...] When words become irrelevant, ethical commitment decays: there is no longer need to respect the word given. This mechanism of language […] tends to become a general habit.

Vittorio Foa, Sulla curiosità

The project

Rosenberg & Sellier wants to make words speak again.
The publishing house in Turin launches a linguistic project that aims to give words back to people as much as to make people return to words, and to escape from the instrumental use of language that robs us of our ability to read the world, to transform and inhabit it.
The project is:
• Organic: a closed corpus of 24 common words
• Innovative: each word is an oral lesson (in festivals, libraries and online) as well as a book
• Authoritative: the authors are people of well-recognized mastery
• Simple: the style, intended for a wide audience, is clear and compelling
• Captivating: we want to elicit discussion and raise responsibility
• Open and participatory: readers and writers are in dialogue (choice of words, comments on the texts and the public lectures)

The series

GEMME is a series of 24 books, each one about a word.
12 words will be chosen by the publisher; the first ones will be WORD, LIFE, AUTHORITY, GIFT, HERITAGE, LOVE, WASTE, MARKET, QUESTION, and IMAGE.
12, conversely, will be chosen by the audience from a broader shortlist.

The content is rich and thorough; the style is simple and captivating; the format is pocket-size (11×16.5 / 128 pages / 115,000 characters approx.), the base price is 10 Euros.
Both the graphic design and the organization of contents are uniform throughout the series.
From 2013, four books are due to be published every year. The first books were published in 2012.

Choosing 24 words among those that everyone knows is not simple.
12 words will be chosen by the publisher; the first ones will be WORD, LIFE, AUTHORITY, GIFT, HERITAGE, LOVE, WASTE, MARKET, QUESTION, and IMAGE.
12, conversely, will be chosen by the audience from a broader shortlist.

The meetings

The lectures of the authors are an integral part of the project: meetings and volumes are born together, are the two halves of the same apple. Not necessarily, therefore, the written page comes to light first.

The lectures will be given in series of meetings within festivals or public events, in libraries, universities, schools, bookshops, and theatres. Part of the lectures will be available online on a dedicated website.

The authors

The authors of the GEMME are “people who know a lot and who know how to talk to those who know little”. Despite coming from different cultural traditions, they share the same authority and desire to communicate with confidence what they have developed over the years. The first authors will be Amos Luzzatto, Maria Luisa Altieri Biagi, Luisa Muraro, Roberto Repole, Chiara Saraceno, Stefano Levi Della Torre, Andrea Segre, Stefano Zamagni, Piero Coda, and Francesco Poli.

[...] what is, I understand, the first duty of a lecturer, to hand you after an hour’s discourse a nugget of pure truth to wrap up between the pages of your notebooks and keep on the mantelpiece for ever. [...] I am going to do what I can to show you how I arrived at this opinion.

Virginia Woolf, A room of one’s own

Addresses

The project is aimed at a vast audience of non-specialists, who, nonetheless, are interested in specific themes and are willing to learn more. The stylistic choices, the language, the conciseness, the ability to involve the audience aim to accompany even the people with less experience to rediscover each word.