The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 12, Number 8
Dec 1988

Obituary: Emanuele Casamassima

by Carlo Federici

Istituto Centrale per la Patologia del Libro. The text of his obituary of Casamassima was submitted by Margaret Hey from Rome.

On Monday, September 12th, 1988, Emanuele Casamassima died from a heart attack while on the bus taking him from Florence home to Impruneta. The whole world got to know bin during those terrible days in November 1966 when, as Director of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence, he tried with all his might to limit the damage caused by the Flood to "his" library. Today it seems to us as though Casamassima declared his library an "open city," calling to Florence all those people of good will who cared for Florence's cultural richness. Thus Casamassima opened up new directions in the conservation and restoration of library materials, and the initiatives that he knew so well how to set in motion are still moving forward, even though many years have passed, and their originator had moved on to university teaching. From 1970, in fact, Casamassima occupied university chairs in paleography, first in Trieste, then in Florence, and here too, he knew how to open up new perspectives in this field, the results of which are still far from realizing their maximum potential. It is not possible to summarize in a few words all the work that made Emanuele Casamassima one of the more eminent international paleographers of this century. It is sufficient only to mention that recently he had been made a member of the International Committee for Latin Paleography and that in October he would have begun studying the manuscript holdings in the Biblioteca Nazionale, Florence--"his" library. Perhaps this shows most clearly the continued freshness of approach in any project which Casamassima undertook, and underlines yet again how much we have lost, and the gap left in our field, although he will continue always to be remembered for his intelligence, cultural and political dedication, and great humanity.

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