According to novelist Joseph Conrad, “One writes only half the book, the other half is with the reader”.
The two women who sit a short distance from each other, in one of the beautiful halls of Milan’s Villa Reale – home to the Modern Art Gallery – are a perfect image of Conrad’s idea of a tight and inescapable bond between writer and reader. They have two separate but complementary roles: any work of literature can express its meaning only within this relationship, so in fact there is no real “The End” to an author’s work. Ideally, literature continues to grow in the emotion and reasoning it sparks, however quietly, in the reader.
The two statues were made two years apart. “The Reader” is by Pietro Magni (Milan, 1817-1877), while the “Girl Intent on Writing” is by Giovanni Spertini (Pavia, 1821 – Milan, 1895).
Finding them together in this place of great quiet is a beautiful discovery. Let’s watch them without saying a word, so we don’t disturb their work.