The Mondadori book covers through its publisher’s letters

This article analyses the genesis of Mondadori’s earliest book covers by examining the publisher’s correspondence with editorial directors, writers and illustrators. The consequent historical intersections provide critical new information about the history of graphic design that is usually portrayed in very general terms, and based exclusively on the description of the book covers themselves.

While Cisari’s covers fully captured the national taste, the shift towards more popular graphic models meant adapting to solutions already tested abroad, compared to which Italian solutions often proved inferior, as demonstrated by the example of Mondadori’s collection of detective novels (known as “gialli”). The research was made possible thanks to the comprehensive documentation conserved by the Arnoldo and Alberto Mondadori Foundation, and in particular the Bortone Bertagnolli bibliographic collection of about 9,000 twentieth-century Italian books. They have been collected and classified on the basis of the authors of the book covers, which has been essential for comparing the covers and contextualizing them in the era of their production.

This article is only available in Italian.