Claudio Magris

During his stay as writer-in-residence at the University of Utrecht in February 2009, Claudio Magris delivered the First Romano Guarnieri Lecture in Italian Studies on the topic of ‘Literature and Justice’. Here he advocates that literature, contrary to one of her most frequent reflexes, does not turn her back to the law, but works instead towards collaboration, in order to avoid the pitfall of an apparently ‘warm’ but ultimately egotistic mental horizon, which in the long run cannot be but deceptive and even destructive. Literature and the law are, Magris argues on the basis of a comprehensive overview of Western thought, intrinsically related in their pursuit of general values, as has been recognised and valued as of Antiquity. Even in the present heyday of relativism this orientation on what transcends individual truth remains of utmost importance, since such a perspective offers the best guarantee for an impartial, perhaps indeed ‘cold’ protection of the manifold varieties of ‘warm’ individual realities that give colour to our world.


Keywords: Literature, Law, Justice, Tolerance, Diversity