In Praise of Paperwork

A Literary Defence of Civil Servants

Literary representations of civil servants quite often are self-portraits penned directly by clerk-writers who draw their inspiration from environments in which they spend most of their time. Be they eager or lazy, competent or idlers, many giants of literature - Gogol, Kafka, Stendhal, Svevo, Balzac, Maupassant, just to the name the most familiar - have toiled away in austere offices, performing routine tasks among inkwells, ledgers, paperwork, and seals. This book is a detailed historical account of the surroundings in which the reader will find both real clerks who gained fame through their novels and imaginary ones who achieved immortality thanks to the former. Modern literature and modern bureaucracies were both products of the bourgeois revolution, which swept away the Ancien Rgime's feudal privileges, venal offices, and hereditary franchises, along with its salons and courts, in favour of impersonality, method, and procedural certainty.

Luciano Vandelli teaches Administrative Law at the University of Bologna and has held many posts in regional and local government.

series "Intersezioni"
pp. 312, 978-88-15-24165-8
publication year 2013