Irene Vallejo: “We had underestimated the love of books”

Madrid, Sept. 18 (EFE) .- With more than 400,000 copies sold, 41 editions and translated into 32 languages, “Infinito en un Junco” has become a literary phenomenon, a “nonsense” in the form of a 400-page essay that he was born as “the craziest of all projects”, and that for its author, Irene Vallejo, shows that “we had underestimated the love of books”.

Upon his arrival at the Madrid Book Fair, where for the first time he went to sign copies, Vallejo (Zaragoza, 1979) reviews in an interview with EFE how the book was conceived, how it was successful. that no one knew how to predict and what is the “book tribe” that emerged around “Infinity in a Reed”.

Question.- How do you manage the success of these features?

Answer: I am still in disbelief. An essay of over four hundred pages on the classical world and the human sciences, which everyone told us was not interesting, seemed the craziest of all projects (…). We didn’t have so many people who, after all, value books and literature, history and even philosophy, thought, all of those things that tell us they’re out of print and yet they show ‘an eternal and infinite vitality.

Q.- Faced with a book that is not easy to read, because despite its good pace, it requires concentration, how do you explain that it has become this global phenomenon and that it has affected so many people? Are we perhaps, especially here in the West, hungry for references to our history and our culture, in which we can anchor ourselves at times like these?

A.- I think so, or the book made me believe that it is. Society condemns or monopolizes the humanities and people feel the need to know their past, to relate to previous generations, to see how we have become who we are. Perhaps around “Infinity in a Reed”, a community has emerged, a tribe of the book, who in recent years have listened to all these doomsday prophecies and who, in one way or another, are revealed with the enthusiasm and passion that is also manifested at this fair where it is seen that people have to wait an hour or more and do so to walk among the books, touch them, stroke them or have a few minutes of conversation with their authors.

Perhaps we had underestimated everything, all this enthusiasm, this love for books (…) which allows the most precious literature, teaching and ideas to be preserved and passed on from generation to generation.

Q.- Were the books of these weeks of confinement the key to getting out of the prison in which the pandemic locked us, plunged into over-information and fear?

A.- Well, not the only one, but it was one of the keys. In fact, the books there have shown that, as Umberto Eco said, they are almost perfect objects.

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Colin L. Johnson