The AUR community was thrilled and honored to welcome Italian novelist Andrea Camilleri and award him with a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa Degree yesterday, October 30th.
The sheer beauty of his ageless thinking Camilleri enchanted a packed Auditorium, where AUR students, faculty, staff and friends all instinctively stood to salute him.
Following the award ceremony, Camilleri spoke with wit and brilliance about American Literature in Fascist Italy and was then ‘interviewed’ by AUR students, who were won over by his glorious treatment of their questions on literature, history and art.
“Do write, everyone should” was his ultimate advice to students as he explained that it took 10 years for his first first book to be published, during which he was unable to write anything else. “Not just to be published, but because writing allows you to re-read yourself in a more objective way.”
President Hodges, who received Camilleri and handed the award commented: “I have accompanied Presidents, Prime Ministers and Princes, but never before have I felt the thrill engendered by seeing, meeting, hearing Andrea Camilleri. He thinks and speaks as he writes with the clarity of a young man who can grasp humor and the weight of history. We have all felt hugely honored by his presence.”
AUR awarded Camilleri for “his long and distinguished career, the integrity of his work and his contribution to literary history; for giving Italy and the world one of the most engaging literary characters of all time, Commissario Montalbano; for having introduced to the world the complicated beauty of Sicily and its people, and for having examined the nature and effects of corruption, born witness to dramatic changes in Italian history and culture, and provided a penetrating cultural critique in the elegantly wrought form of the thriller.”
LAUREA HONORIS CAUSA TO ANDREA CAMILLERI CITATION
Dott. Andrea CAMILLERI: Novelist, Screenwriter, and Director of both Theatre and Film
One of Italy’s most celebrated writers, you have also had a long and varied career in theatre and film. You have been praised as one Italy’s greatest writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and you have given Italy and the world one of the most engaging literary characters of all time, a true cultural icon, Commissario Montalbano. You have written poems, short stories, and screenplays, and you have brought to life on stage and in film the works of Luigi Pirandello, and as well as many important playwrights of the 20th century. You are also a media commentator and a refreshingly outspoken political critic. But it is your creation of Commissario Montalbano, who appears in over 20 novels, which have been adapted for television and shown in over 15 countries in 12 languages, that has won you the love and respect of millions of people around the globe and earned you literary accolades, including the Nino Martoglio International Book Award and the prestigious International Dagger Award.
Like Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Inspector Maigret, Commissario Montalbano is one of literary history’s great detectives. Detective fiction is a genre that takes on the ills of society. Its seemingly straight forward form allows it to explore cultural anxieties, what we fear and what we loathe. It allows us to ask questions about justice, the communal acceptance of authority and about moral and immoral action. With the detective we can examine what happens to a society when those communal bonds are broken or transgressed. Though you once said that you saw the form of the thriller “as a cage that does not allow you to escape,” you have used the form as lens through which to view history, politics, and human nature. Montalbano is more than a detective—he is a modern day scientist/priest who understands human comedy and tragedy, and who struggles to restore order that has been disrupted, even as he knows the ultimate cause of disorder can never be resolved.
Through your wonderful creation of Salvo Montalbano—lover of good food and ocean views—you have introduced to the world the complicated beauty of Sicily and its people, both of which you so clearly love. You have examined the nature and effects of corruption, born witness to dramatic changes in Italian history and culture, and provided a penetrating cultural critique. And you do all this in the elegantly wrought form of the thriller.
For your long and distinguished career, the integrity of your work, and your contribution to literary history, we are honored to welcome you into our diverse family, on the recommendation of the Senate and by action of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Rome.
Therefore, by the authority invested in me and in accordance with the laws of the District of Columbia, and the State of Delaware, I do hereby confer upon you, Andrea Camilleri, the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa.