The first lesson.
“Good Morning everyone, welcome to the Italian literature course. There is no better way to introduce oneself than by asking a question. What is literature? Here he is, a fearless volunteer. Your name, please?”
“There is no better way to introduce oneself than by answering a question. Literature is no fucking use”. General buzz. Who would ever want to fail the first day of school? Veronica turns around, she looks at him, but it was as if she couldn’t see anything.
“Do you see how well I have already understood him? We have a dauntless warrior in our classroom! I am sorry to disappoint you, but the answer cannot be correct, since I’ve not asked you what literature is for, but what it is. Therefore, I am forced to change my question”. He stands up, takes the corridor to the right calmly and approaches to the boy’s desk. He rolls up his shirt’s sleeves slightly, sits on the edge of the desk with one leg dangling outwards and starts talking again: “In order to have this kind of answer I have to ask you what literature is for”. The boy doesn’t look away from the professor’s eyes and, with a mischievous smile, he answers unconsciously aloud: “Literature is no fucking use”. Two endless seconds. The professor suddenly stands up and shakes hands with the student. His eyes open wide. “I am forced to give an A on the first day of school, guys”. Not only has your colleague answered the question correctly, but he also quoted a famous French writer of the nineteenth century!”. He goes quickly back to his teaching post and takes some sheets of paper. “Pass them on, thank you. You’ll see that our warrior has certainly read the preface of this wonderful book. The author says it clearly. Miss, would you be so kind as to read the first line?”
“What is literature for? Nothing”.
“Here’s today’s lesson. Thank you for the spoiler”. General laughter. “Literature is useless. You can take the girl who has just read, the courageous student over there or me as an example. I have read Anna Karenina, what I think they haven’t done yet. I have read Buddenbrook by Mann, what I think they haven’t done yet. Nevertheless, all three are safe and sound in this room. All three breathe, we had breakfast and tonight we can go out for a beer. It is not an invitation. Let’s be clear”. He is really serious. He sits on his teaching post. “What is a flower for? I mean for the man, a flower, what is it for? It is for nothing, ça ne sert à rien. Men can live easily without a flower for the rest of their life. Now, let’s imagine two different houses. One with a nice green lawn and the other with a nice green lawn, lavender which runs along the path that leads to the entrance of the house, red and white roses dotted around the garden and geraniums dripping from the balcony vases. Which one would you choose? But I will tell you more, what’s a love letter for? Why can’t I see you instead and tell you that I love you? Why do I have to write a letter? What’s an artwork for? What’s a photograph for? Here you have the funniest one: what’s a kiss for? A complete silence in the classroom. The kiss is useless. Useless. Let’s be pragmatic, kissing is not necessary for the reproduction and it’s a huge germ exchange. Do you know how many diseases have been transmitted by a kiss? Do you know how unhygienic a kiss is?”. He takes a few minutes to pause and then, raising his voice, declares: “Dear students, I haven’t come here to teach you anything useful. Usefulness cannot get along with beauty. Literature is exactly like a flower, a photograph, an artwork, a letter or a kiss. It is useless. However, I don’t want to give up the scent of wisteria when I go back home, I don’t want to give up the beautiful love letter written to my girlfriend at the tender age of twelve, I don’t want to give up the photos I keep in my wallet, I don’t want to give up a painting by Klimt in my bedroom and above all, I don’t want to give up a long and unexpected kiss at the front door of the girl I like. Anyone who doesn’t want all this, please get out of this room. Here the situation is serious, here we speak of beauty and of useless stuff!”.
The first lesson.