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The original idea of the ELM aroused in Verona (Italy) where Fondazione Aida realised the four editions of the Literary Marathon at the local level between 2002 and 2005, involving hundreds of citizens in the public no-stop readings dedicated to Dante‘s Divine Comedy (2002), to Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (2003), to Homer’s “Iliad"” by Vincenzo Monti (2004); to Petrarch’s “Canzoniere, or Rerum vulgarium fragmenta” (2005).

After these successful initiatives the idea to realise the initiative at the European level was launched: the first ELM-EUROPEAN LITERARY MARATHON on the 9th May 2007, in order to celebrate the Day of Europe involving citizens in a unique simultaneous cultural event. The result was 8 no-stop public readings (8-10 hours) taking place at the same time in 8 European Countries (Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Spain, Finland, Poland, UK). Each of them was dedicated to a national author of the 20th Century chosen as representative of the National Literature and as expression of the European Culture. Eight marathons were realised by different partners (i.e. associations, theatres, regional library, municipality, national radio) in different locations (open squares, theatres, libraries, radio studios) but linked together by a unique European spirit. Each partner added collateral events according to its culture and history: theatre performances, music concerts, radio programmes, seminars, drawing competitions, conferences etc. together with the main readings.

The ELM 2007 was a great success everywhere not only because hundreds of volunteers (a total of 1.600 readers and 15.000 persons as audience) from different ages, professions and social groups participated as readers in the main Marathons but also because schools, universities, libraries, public institutions (i.e. Ministers of Culture, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, local politicians, etc. and also a prison) decided with enthusiasm to join the project organising twin short- marathons and other events dedicated to the authors and the Masterpieces of the ELM.

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