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Book of Nonexistent Words

Book of Nonexistent Words

Stefano Massini
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The internationally acclaimed author harnesses his brilliant imagination and masterful storytelling ability to create a catalog of new words inspired by stories of real people in this wondrous book reminiscent of Italo Calvino's mesmerizing Invisible Cities.

How many times have words not been enough

How many complex feelings don’t have a corresponding noun that properly describes them

How many times has language left us like an archer without arrows in the labyrinth of our emotions

Award-winning author Stefano Massini, a master of expression,, made a discovery that shot new life into his writing practice. To his surprise he found that the ancient rules of language were not quite as restrictive as he had long envisioned them to be. With so many emotions and states of mind missing modern descriptors and definitions, Massini stumbled across a simple but artistry-altering idea. Instead of compromising honest expression through perfunctory verbiage, he decided language was, if anything, a flowing palette of colors he could use to paint all things. Words are meant to be invented.

To reconfirm his belief in the magic of words, Massini returned to the wondrous mechanism that has fed dictionaries from time immemorial. If he could not find the precise word he wanted, he created one. In this delightful compendium, he introduces his personal vocabulary; every chapter mentions a new word that comes from a story about a real person, from Louis XIV to an American gangster.

The Book of Nonexistent Words is a beautifully illustrated collection of linguistic origin stories wrought from the mind of an internationally renowned storytelling icon. Massini effectively liberates our human capacity for using language creatively and shows how we can embrace storytelling to fine tune our way of being in the world. Massini encourages us to be imaginative; if the language in the dictionary cannot adequately match the reality of the here and now, we must create new words that ring true.

Translated from the Italian by Richard Dixon

About the Author

Stefano Massini is a novelist, essayist and playwright. He received a degree in Ancient Literature from the University of Florence before beginning his theatrical career in 2002. He is currently the Creative Consultant at Piccolo Teatro di Milano. He has directed and written numerous plays such as The Diary of Anne Frank and wrote the award-winning L'odore assordante del bianco. The Lehman Trilogy premiered on the West End in 2019 where it was nominated for five Oliver Awards.

Massini lives in Milan, Italy.