Cavaliere Signor Giovanni Mersi is 83, and for the last 70 years he’s been the self-appointed guardian of 11 very special volumes.
Marco Sonzogni, Senior Lecturer at the School of Languages and Cultures at Victoria University, and the director of the NZ Centre for Literary Translation. Credit: Victoria University Image Services.
He rescued 11 of 13 of the first Italian edition (1787) of Captain Cook’s journals from a bombed out school house, thereby saving them for posterity. And now he’s passing on that guardianship to Victoria University.
Cavaliere Signor Giovanni Mersi speaking at the event to acknowledge his gift to the University. Credit: Victoria University Image Services.
Amelia Nurse visits Giovanni to hear the story of his astonishing childhood in war-time Italy, and what these very rare books have meant to him.
Cavaliere Signor Giovanni Mersi embracing Sue Hirst, Special Collections Librarian at the J.C.Beaglehole Room Tānga Puiaki at Victoria University. Credit: Victoria University Image Services.
Cavaliere Signor Giovanni Mersi cutting the Cook Cake (imported from Italy of course) with Nina Cuccurullo, Administrator for the School of Languages and Cultures. Credit: Victoria University Image Services.