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the Copenaghen Post
27 June – 03 July 2008    page 11

Through the envoy’s looking glass  

by Jeffrey Hunter

 A new book by the Italian diplomat, who served in Copenaghen from 1971-74, explores the historical - if little-known – link between art and diplomacy

 Artists – counterculture, revolution, long-hair, Diplomats – quite the opposite.

But that picture isn’t accurate, at least not to Pasquale Baldocci, former Italian diplomat who served as embassy advisor in Copenaghen 1971-1974. To him, the two are peas in a pod.

Baldocci co-wrote “Through the Diplomatic Looking Glass” the first book in the new “Diplomats as Writers” series   published by DiploFoundation. He returned to Copenaghen to present the book to a small audience that included the Italian ambassador at the Italian Cultural Institute last week.

The painstakingly researched book – more than 200 works were dissected over five years – presents and analyzes books of un diplomatic nature written by other Italian diplomats.

“People see diplomacy as connected with politics and economics, but seldom with art or literature”. Baldocci said. “The truth is, literature and diplomacy have a very long way together, since the middle ages”.

A list of names – Dante, Petrarca, Machiavelli, to name only the Italians – followed. He said humanists, poets and playrights were sought for initial diplomatic roles because of their talent at conveying culture.

By contrast, Baldocci said diplomats are now seen stiffs. He said the diplomat’s modern job is defined more by writing endless reports, letters and memos, which can take art out of a potentially very artistic picture.

“We are obliged to follow the diplomatic language, so we have a feeling of great relief when we change our style” he said.

If they weren’t already, Baldocci said the job leads diplomats to become great literary figures. He said many have won Nobel Prizes for novels and books on geography and architecture, and many more deserve to.

“We are stimulated by all kinds of people, climates, sights, philosophies, religions, music, popular songs. It offers a range of elements to explore for satisfaction, which we can not explore when we are doomed to write in a certain way”.

With his book, Baldocci hopes to not only introduce readers to these largely ignored figures, but also recruit a new kind of diplomat.

“I like the idea of having people with other interest outside of politics becoming part of the diplomatic world” he said.

Baldocci  ended the talk with advice to those already in that world.

“If you like to write, don’t forget that there are other styles beside the diplomatic style, and you can find deep satisfaction in exploring these others ways”.


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