23 April is World Book and Copyright Day

World Book and Copyright Day aims to promote literature and publishing, as well as protect intellectual property through copyright.

In a time characterised by cultural flattening and philosophical and creative aridity, books are the best way to comprehend reality. Literature has a huge power: conventional symbols give life to surprising results, able to generate powerful revolutions similar to those in science. As Franz Kafka once said, “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us”.

Ragazza che legge

23 April, World Book and Copyright Day

Just take, for example, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962). It managed to change the course of events by giving life to the environmental movement. “This book offers undeniable proof that the power of an idea can be far greater than the power of politicians,” wrote Al Gore, US former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

On 23 April the world celebrates the World Book and Copyright Day, established by UNESCO’s General Conference. The day coincides with the date of death of three prominent authors in 1616: Cervantes, Shakespeare, and Garcilaso Inca de la Vega.

Statua di Cervantes
Statue in the Golden Gate Park, San Francisco (California), of writer Miguel de Cervantes with his main characters, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza © Lorenzo Brenna

Promoting literature and literacy

The celebration, established in 1996, aims to promote literature and publishing, while protecting intellectual property through copyright. It also encourages everyone, in particular young people, to a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those, who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity

Literacy is the door to knowledge, essential to individual self-esteem and empowerment. Books, in all forms, play an essential role here,” said UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova. Each year, UNESCO and the international organizations representing the three major sectors of the book industry – publishers, booksellers and libraries, select the World Book Capital for a one-year period. Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, was chosen for the year 2019.

La città polacca di Breslavia
Wroklaw, Pland was designated 2016 World Book Capital by UNESCO

Let’s board The Pequod and challenge the sea with Captain Achab, try to get away with a murder alongside Rodion Romanic’ Raskòlnikov, oppose the authority with Guy Montag, or measure up against Plutarch in the field of dialectics. Just open your mind to this magic world made of paper and ink.

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