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Italo Calvino

Italo Calvino

One of modern Italy's most important men of letters, Italo Calvino (1923-1985), blended fantasy, fable, and comedy in an effort to illuminate modern life, and in the process redefined the literary forms.

Italo Calvino was born in Cuba in 1923. His father, Mario, a botanist, was 48 when Calvino was born; his mother, formerly Eva Mameli, also a botanist, was 37. Shortly after his birth, his family returned to their native Italy. They raised Calvino on their farm in San Remo, and Mario taught at the nearby University of Turin. The lush vegetation of the San Remo area and his extensive knowledge of local flora are reflected in many of Calvino's writings.

After preparatory school, Calvino enrolled in the Faculty of Science at the University of Turin. However, soon after his matriculation, Calvino received orders to join the Italian Army. He promptly fled to the hills and joined the resistance. During the two years that Germany occupied Italy (1943-1945) Calvino lived as a partisan in the woods of the Alpi Maritime region fighting both German and Italian fascists.

At the war's end in 1945, Calvino joined the Communist Party. He also returned to the university; however, this time he enrolled in the Faculty of Letters. He began writing for left-wing papers and journals. Calvino also began to record his war experiences in stories that eventually became his highly acclaimed first novel, The Path to the Nest of Spiders (1947). Here he revealed the war as seen through the eyes of an innocent young soldier, the first of many youthful and/or naive protagonists he used to reflect life's complexity and tragedy. Considered a member of the school of neo-Realism, Calvino was encouraged to write another novel in this tradition by his literary friends, particularly writers Natalia Ginzburg and Cesare Pavese. They also invited him to join the staff of their new publishing house, Enaudi. He accepted and remained affiliated with Enaudi all his life.

However, Calvino's next books were very different. In The Cloven Viscount (1952) Calvino depicts a soldier halved by a cannonball during a crusade. His two halves return to play opposing roles in his native village. The Nonexistent Knight (1959) details the adventures of a suit of armor occupied by the will of a knight who is otherwise incorporeal. And The Baron in the Trees (1957) recounts the saga of a boy who, rebelling against the authority of his father, spends the rest of his life living in the branches of a forest. All three works, set in remote times, rely on fantasy, fable, and comedy to illuminate modern life.

By the middle of the 1950s Calvino spent most of his time in Rome, the literary as well as political hub of Italian life. He resigned from the Communist Party, tired of writing tracts for Communist periodicals and disillusioned by the spread of dogmatic Stalinism and the savage crushing of the Hungarian revolt of 1956. As the years passed, Calvino became increasingly skeptical of politics.

Publication of Italian Folktales in 1956 did much to ensure Calvino's reputation as a major literary figure. Calvino compiled a complete and authoritative collection of 200 folk tales from all regions and dialects of Italy. Critics rank this anthology along with that of the Brothers Grimm in importance and appeal.

In 1959 Calvino visited America for six months, and in the early 1960s he moved to Paris. The Watcher, a collection of three short stories, was published in 1963. While living in Paris he met Chichita Singer, an Argentinian woman who had been working for years as a translator for UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). They were married in 1964.

In his writing Calvino continued to "search for new forms to suit realities ignored by most writers." In the comic strip he found the inspiration for both t-zero (1967) and Cosmicomics (1968). In these pieces, which resemble science fiction, a blob-like being named Qfwfq narrates the astronomical origins of the cosmos as well as the development of the species over millenia.

The 1970s saw the publication of Invisible Cities (1972), the story of Marco Polo's voyage from Venice to Cathay, including descriptions of many fictionalized cities; The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1973), which is organized around the imagery of medieval Tarot cards; and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (1979). This last work consists of ten unfinished novels within a novel which is itself a wild romp through the worlds of academia, publishing, and criticism.

It was also during the 1970s in Paris that Calvino became a member of "the workshop for potential literature," a group of scholars and writers who met monthly to explore the possibilities of modern literature. During this period he and Chichita became the parents of a daughter whom they named Giovana.

Calvino returned to Rome in 1980. He and his family also enjoyed a country house at Pinetta Rocca Mare near the Riviera. In 1983 Mr. Palomar was completed. Calvino turned this novel into a dramatization of a mathematical formula categorizing the actions of the title character, named for the famous observatory, at a seaside resort. The book is at once a highly comic and abstract allegory.

During these years Calvino visited the United States again. In 1975 he became an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters; in 1980 Italian Folktales was included on the American Library Association's Notable Booklist; in 1984 he was awarded an honorary degree by Mount Holyoke College; and in 1985 he was to have delivered the Norton Lectures at Harvard. However, Calvino died at 61 on September 19, 1985, in Siena, Italy, following a cerebral hemorrhage.

Italo Calvino redefined the literary forms and in so doing breathed new life into the novel, the fable, and the folktale.

Further Reading

Most of his works are available in English. There are several books of criticism on Calvino's work. Calvino: The Writer as Fablemaker (1979) by Sara Maria Adler and Contemporary European Novelists (1968) edited by Siegfried Mandel are two in English. There are also numerous entries for Calvino in Contemporary Literary Criticism. However, a definitive biography has yet to be published, so periodicals, notably The New York Times Magazine and Book Review, as well as obituaries in major U.S. newspapers, remain the primary sources of data about Calvino's life. □

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Calvino, Italo

Italo Calvino (Ĭtəlō călvē´nō), 1923–85, Italian novelist. Calvino was one of the most popular novelists of the 20th cent. Although loneliness is an essential condition in his writings, he imbues his stories with passion and celebrates the human capacity for love and imagination. During the 1940s, he was associated with Italian neo-realist writers, such as Elio Vittorini, Cesare Pavese, and Natalia Levi Ginzburg. During the 1950s, however, Calvino turned to fantasy and allegory. His trilogy of historical fantasies—The Cloven Viscount (1952), The Baron in the Trees (1957), and The Nonexistent Knight (1959)—brought him international acclaim. Other important works include Cosmicomics (1965, tr. 1968), Italian Folktales (1956, tr. 1980), and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (1979, tr. 1981).

See his autobiographical essays in The Road to San Giovanni (tr. 1993), and other autobiographical writings in Hermit in Paris (tr. 2003); M. Wood, ed., Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941–1985 (2013); studies by S. M. Adler (1979) and I. T. Olken (1984).

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Calvino, Italo

Italo Calvino

BORN: 1923, Santiago de Las Vegas, Cuba

DIED: 1985, Siena, Italy

NATIONALITY: Italian

GENRE: Fiction, nonfiction

MAJOR WORKS:
The Path to the Nest of Spiders (1947)
Italian Folktales (1956)
Invisible Cities (1972)
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (1979)
Mr. Palomar (1983)

Overview

Italo Calvino was a noted journalist, essayist, and writer of fiction. Perhaps best remembered today for such literary works as Invisible Cities and the “Our Ancestors” trilogy, which blended fantasy, fable, and comedy to illuminate modern life, Calvino also made important contributions to the fields of folklore and literary criticism. Calvino's growth as a writer paralleled the major literary trends of the last forty years; he moved from stories firmly grounded in reality to challenging story structures that simultaneously defied and redefined the traditional form of the novel. All the while, his writing remained accessible to the general reading public. More than two decades after his death, Italo Calvino's writings remain both widely respected and crucially relevant to modern literature.

Works in Biographical and Historical Context

The Child of Scientists Italo Calvino was born in Cuba in 1923. His father, Mario, a botanist, was forty-eight

when Calvino was born; his mother, formerly Eva Mameli, also a botanist, was thirty-seven. Shortly after his birth, his family returned to their native Italy. They raised Calvino on their farm in San Remo, where he would spend the better part of the next twenty years.

He attended public schools, and because his parents were nonreligious, he did not receive a religious education, nor was he subjected to the obligatory political indoctrination of fascist leader Benito Mussolini's Italian government. A family tradition of devotion to science led him to enter the school of agriculture at the University of Turin, where his father was a distinguished professor of tropical agriculture.

War Stories and Political Tracts Calvino's studies were interrupted, however, when he received orders to join the Italian army. During World War II, Italy was a key member of the Axis powers, along with Germany and Japan; these countries fought against the Allied powers of England, France, and eventually the United States. Opposed to fighting for a cause he didn't believe in, Calvino fled and joined the widespread resistance that was at that time fighting against Italian and German fascists in the country. During the two years that Germany occupied Italy (1943–1945), Calvino lived as a freedom fighter in the woods of the Maritime Alps, fighting both German and Italian fascists.

At the war's end in 1945, Calvino joined the Communist Party, which supported the rights of workers and the collective sharing of both resources and wealth. He also returned to the University of Turin, this time enrolling in the faculty of letters. He graduated one year later with a thesis on British author Joseph Conrad. He also began writing for left-wing papers and journals.

Antonio Gramsci, the Marxist critic and cofounder of the Italian Communist Party whose writings were published posthumously in book form in the 1940s, exercised a remarkable influence on Calvino. Gramsci called for a national popular literature that would be accessible to the people and receptive to their real concerns. This new literature would be vibrant and rooted in social values and would cover a range of contemporary topics, including film, the American novel, music, and comic books.

Calvino began to record his war experiences in stories that eventually became his highly acclaimed first novel, The Path to the Nest of Spiders (1947). In this work he revealed the war as seen through the eyes of an innocent young soldier, the first of many youthful or naive protagonists he would use to reflect life's complexity and tragedy. Considered a member of the school of neorealism—a literary movement that sought to bring a feeling of authentic real-life events and emotion into writing—Calvino was encouraged by such writer friends as Natalia Ginzburg and Cesare Pavese to write another novel in this tradition. These friends also invited him to join the staff of their new publishing house, Einaudi. He accepted and remained affiliated with Einaudi all his life.

Parisian Relocation By the middle of the 1950s, Calvino was spending most of his time in Rome, the literary as well as political hub of Italian life. Tired of writing tracts for communist periodicals and, like many European intellectuals, disillusioned by the spread of dogmatic Stalinism—which shared many of the same ideals as communism, but in practice resulted in a murderous dictatorship—he resigned from the Communist Party. His disillusionment with Stalinist tyranny and perversion of communist ideals was sealed with the crushing of the Hungarian revolt in 1956 by forces of the Warsaw Pact. Indeed, as the years passed, Calvino became increasingly skeptical of politics in general.

In 1959, Calvino visited America for six months, and in the early 1960s, he moved to Paris. While living in Paris, he met Chichita Singer, an Argentinian woman who had been working for years as a translator for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). They were married in 1964. Also in the 1960s, Calvino joined the OuLiPo, or Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (Workshop of Potential Literature), an

experimental workshop founded by Raymond Queneau. His association with this group would influence his subsequent work.

International Recognition and Honors The 1970s saw the publication of three of Calvino's most highly regarded novels: Invisible Cities, The Castle of Crossed Destinies, and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. During this period he and Chichita became the parents of a daughter whom they named Giovana.

After his move to Paris, Calvino's work began to show a wider range of influences. A reconciliation with his father, which is treated in the short story “La strada di San Giovanni” (1990; translated in The Road to San Giovanni, 1993), gave him the freedom to explore and embrace a scientific perspective more vigorously, honing it into an attitude that blended humanist innocence and scientific wonder.

Calvino worked on the bookThe Castle of Crossed Destinies periodically for several years. In the 1973 postscript to The Castle of Crossed Destinies, Calvino writes about the double origin of the work. The idea first came to him in 1968 while he was attending an international seminar in which one of the participants spoke of fortune-telling with cards. Publisher Franco Maria Ricci decided to bring out an art book employing the Visconti tarot cards illustrated by Bonifazio Bembo and asked Calvino to provide the commentary.

Calvino first won international recognition as a major writer with Invisible Cities, which some critics consider to be his most perfect work. The book has a carefully defined mathematical structure that displays its author's abiding interest in symmetries and parallels. The book is ostensibly a conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, in which Polo enumerates the various cities of the Khan's empire. Yet it can hardly be called fiction, for it does not resemble a narrative, nor does it tell a story.

Calvino's readers had to wait six years for his next book, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (1979). As if to mockingly reassure his public of the authenticity of the book, he begins by stating, “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. Relax …” Described by Salman Rushdie as “the most outrageous fiction about fiction ever conceived,” the novel comprises the beginnings of ten other novels to emerge as a constantly mutating parody of literary genres.

Final Years Calvino's last novel was published after he returned to Rome. The protagonist in the novel Mr. Palomar (1985) is a visionary who quests after knowledge. Named for the telescope at Mount Palomar in Southern California, he is a wise and perceptive scanner of humanity's foibles and mores. While the scheme of Mr. Palomar is less complex than that of Invisible Cities, Calvino again employs ideas borrowed from science, set theory, semiotics, linguistics, and structuralism.

In 1975, Calvino became an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters; in 1980, his Italian Folktales was included on the American Library Association's Notable Booklist; in 1984, he was awarded an honorary degree by Mount Holyoke College; and in 1985, he was to have delivered the Norton Lectures at Harvard. However, Calvino died at age sixty-one on September 19, 1985, in Siena, Italy following a cerebral hemorrhage.

Works in Literary Context

Inspired by the legacies of such Italian luminaries as Renaissance poet Ludovico Ariosto and revolutionary scientist Galileo Galilei, Calvino interwove an ironic and allegorical use of fantasy with a profound interest in the phenomena of science and mathematics.

Neorealism Calvino began his writing career in the mid-1940s, when neorealism was becoming the dominant literary movement. The dilemma for the young author coming of age at this time of cultural flux was whether to follow the accepted standard of social realism promoted by Marxist ideology or to move beyond literary convention on his own. For a while, Calvino was able to maintain a healthy balance and satisfy both his political commitment and evolving literary aspirations.

LITERARY AND HISTORICAL CONTEMPORARIES

Calvino's famous contemporaries include:

Salvador Dalí (1904–1989): A Spanish surrealist painter.

Pablo Neruda (1904–1973): Nobel Prize–winning Chilean poet also known for his outspoken communism.

Roland Barthes (1915–1980): French literary critic and philosopher.

Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908–): French anthropologist who developed the idea of structuralism as a method for understanding society.

Joseph Stalin (1878–1953): General secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1922 to his death in 1953; his brutal authoritarianism alienated many intellectuals affiliated with the Communist Party outside the Soviet Union.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara (1928–1967): Marxist revolutionary and guerrilla leader.

Folklore During the 1950s, Calvino began to move away from neorealism. His “Our Ancestors” trilogy is markedly different from his earlier works. In The Cloven Viscount (1952), Calvino depicts a soldier halved by a cannonball during a crusade. His two halves return to play opposing roles in his native village. The Nonexistent Knight (1959) details the adventures of a suit of armor

occupied by the will of a knight who is otherwise incorporeal. And The Baron in the Trees (1957) recounts the saga of a boy who, rebelling against the authority of his father, spends the rest of his life living in the branches of a forest. All three works, set in remote times, rely on fantasy, fable, and comedy to illuminate modern life.

Calvino frequently acknowledged that much of his fantastic material was indebted to traditional folklore. In 1956, he published his reworking of Italian fables, Italian Folktales, which has achieved an international reputation as a classic comparable to the work of the Brothers Grimm.

Science and Mathematics Calvino continued to “search for new forms to suit realities ignored by most writers.” In the comic strip, he found the inspiration for both t zero (1967) and Cosmicomics (1968). In these pieces, which resemble science fiction, a blob-like being named Qfwfq, who variously exists as an atomic particle, a mollusk, and a dinosaur, narrates the astronomical origins of the cosmos as well as the development of the species over millennia. Calvino made further use of mathematics and logic in t zero, a collection of stories in which he fictionalized philosophical questions concerning genetics, cybernetics, and time.

Postmodernism Much of Calvino's later works are considered to be postmodernist, a sometimes vague and imprecise category. Postmodern literature relies on such techniques as the use of questionable narrators, fragmentation, and metafiction—the deliberate tweaking of narrative conventions. Postmodernist writers tend to reject the quest for finding order amid chaos that characterized earlier modernist works, instead often reveling in creating a sense of paradox or deconstructing the traditional narrative structure, as in Invisible Cities.

Influences and Legacy Long an admirer of classical literature, Calvino's earliest influences were drawn from the likes of fellow countrymen Dante and Ariosto, as well as Honoré de Balzac, Miguel de Cervantes, and William Shakespeare. After his relocation to Paris, he built on this core of the Italian narrative tradition and classical studies, by looking to writers such as Vladimir Nabokov, James Joyce, and Robert Musil.

Italo Calvino continues to influence modern writers such as Aimee Bender and Amanda Filipacchi, both of whom explore similar fantastic, surreal, postmodern landscapes.

Works in Critical Context

Calvino's essays on literature, collected in The Uses of Literature and Six Memos for the Next Millennium, clearly define his aesthetic criteria and philosophical temperament. In Six Memos, he states that his goal was to achieve a clarity and lightness of language that would allow him to conduct “a search for knowledge … extended to anthropology and ethnology and mythology … a net-work of connections between the events, the people and the things of the world.”

Calvino has long earned favor among literary critics. From his early works, Calvino's narrative is highly personalized, exhibiting the enduring duality most critics find in his writing. Jay Schweig, on the other hand, has called Calvino's later works “postmodernism at its most frustrating.”

COMMON HUMAN EXPERIENCE

In Invisible Cities, Calvino explores the emotional potential of imagining strange and distant lands, prompting readers to imagine their own world in new ways. Other works that allow readers a window into unusual worlds include:

Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America during the Years 1799–1804 (c. 1814), a travelogue by Alexander von Humboldt. Brilliant German naturalist and explorer Humboldt records his observations of South America in this substantial work.

The Man Who Would Be King (1975), a film directed by John Huston. Based on a Rudyard Kipling short story, this adventure movie features Sean Connery and Michael Caine as former British soldiers who have a fantastic adventure in exotic lands not seen by Westerners in centuries.

On the Road (1957), a novel by Jack Kerouac. This classic of the Beat Generation chronicles a wild cross-country trip by fictionalized versions of Kerouac and his friends. Though it takes place in the United States of the 1950s, the landscape is both strange and familiar, much like the cities described by Calvino.

The Abyssinian (2000), a novel by Jean-Christophe Rufin. Rufin's debut novel tells of an adventurous doctor in seventeenth-century Cairo who, through a strange turn of events, is ordered on a dangerous diplomatic mission to the king of Abyssinia.

The Our Ancestors Trilogy The three books that make up the Our Ancestors trilogy were widely praised when they were first published in the 1950s. Helene Cantarella, in the New York Times Book Review, calls the first book, The Cloven Viscount, “a dark-hued Gothic gem which transports us into the mysterious late medieval world of Altdorfer's teeming battle scenes and Bosch's hallucinating grotesques.” Gore Vidal has described the philosophical theme of The Cloven Viscount as a witty and refreshing parody of the Platonic Ideal. Regarding the final book, The Baron in the Trees, Frederic Morton, writing for the New York Times Book Review, states, “Mr. Calvino … seems to have intended nothing less than the deliberate transmutation of fantastic notion into

universal allegory. Since he is not Cervantes he does not succeed—yet we are frequently entertained and even incidentally instructed.” Similarly, John Updike has claimed that Calvino's novels “can no longer be called novels; they are displays of mental elegance, bound illuminations.”

Responses to Literature

  1. Italo Calvino's collection of Italian folktales was a contribution on par with the works of the Brothers Grimm. Using Calvino's work as a base, research and summarize five well-known Italian folktales.
  2. The later works of Italo Calvino juxtapose fantastic narratives with rigorous applications of mathematical patterns. Note the appearance of numbers, patterns, sequences, and mathematics in general in such works as Invisible Cities, t zero, Cosmicomics, and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler and explain their function.
  3. As a young man, Italo Calvino was insulated from, and later revolted against, the rigid and dogmatic policies of Mussolini's Italy. What was the state-approved art and literature of fascist Italy like? Can you compare fascist art to movements in art and literature that are popular today? Why do you think Calvino's parents would have wanted to protect him from such influences?
  4. Italo Calvino's early writings are considered part of the Italian neorealist movement. What were the goals and objectives of this movement? Using your library and the Web, find out more about literary realism and neorealism. How do the two styles differ? How are they the same?

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books

Adler, Sara Maria. Calvino: The Writer as Fablemaker. Potomac, Md.: Ediciones Jose Porrua Turanzas, 1979.

Contemporary Literary Criticism. Gale, Volume 5, 1976, Volume 8, 1978, Volume 11, 1979, Volume 22, 1982, Volume 33, 1984, Volume 39, 1986, Volume 73, Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 1993.

Gatt-Rutter, John. Writers and Politics in Modern Italy. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1978.

“Italo Calvino (1923–1985).” Short Story Criticism. Ed. Sheila Fitzgerald. vol. 3. Detroit: Gale Research, 1989.

Mandel, Siegfried, ed. Contemporary European Novelists. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1986.

Pacifici, Sergio. A Guide to Contemporary Italian Literature: From Futurism to Neorealism. Cleveland, Ohio: World, 1962.

Re, Lucia. Calvino and the Age of Neorealism: Fables of Estrangement. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1990.

Tamburri, Anthony Julian. A Semiotic of Re-reading: Italo Calvino's “Snow Job.” New Haven, Conn.: Chancery Press, 1998.

Woodhouse, J. R. Italo Calvino: A Reappraisal and an Appreciation of the Trilogy. Hull, U.K.: University of Hull, 1968.

Periodicals

Newsweek, February 14, 1977; November 17, 1980; June 8, 1981; November 28, 1983; October 8, 1984; October 21, 1985.

New Yorker, February 24, 1975; April 18, 1977; February 23, 1981; August 3, 1981; September 10, 1984; October 28, 1985, pp. 25–27; November 18, 1985; May 30, 1994, p. 105.

New York Review of Books, November 21, 1968; January 29, 1970; May 30, 1974; May 12, 1977; June 25, 1981; December 6, 1984; November 21, 1985; October 8, 1987, p. 13; September 29, 1988, p. 74; July 14, 1994, p. 14.

New York Times Book Review, November 8, 1959; August 5, 1962; August 12, 1968; August 25, 1968; October 12, 1969; February 7, 1971; November 17, 1974; April 10, 1977; October 12, 1980; June 21, 1981; January 22, 1984, p. 8; October 7, 1984; March 20, 1988, pp. 1, 30; October 23, 1988, p. 7; October 10, 1993, p. 11; November 26, 1995, p. 16.

Times Literary Supplement, April 24, 1959; February 23, 1962; September 8, 1966; April 18, 1968; February 9, 1973; December 14, 1973; February 21, 1975; January 9, 1981; July 10, 1981; September 2, 1983; July 12, 1985; September 26, 1986; March 11, 1994, p. 29.

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Calvino, Italo

CALVINO, Italo

Nationality: Italian (originally Cuban: immigrated to Italy, 1925). Born: Santiago de las Vegas, 15 October 1923. Education: Studied agronomy, 1941, and literature, 1945-47, University of Turin, graduated 1947. Military Service: Conscripted into Young Facists, 1940; Italian Resistance, 1943-45. Family: Married Esther Judith "Chichita" Singer in 1964; one daughter. Career: Member of editorial staff, Einaudi, Turin, 1947-48, and again beginning 1950; member of staff, L'Unita, 1948-50; co-editor, Il Menabó, Milan, 1959-66. Awards: Riccione prize, 1947; Premio de l'Unita prize, 1947; Saint-Vincent prize, 1952; Viareggio prize, 1957; Bagutta prize, 1959; Veillon prize, 1963; Feltrinelli prize, 1972; Austrian state prize for European literature, 1976; Nice Festival prize, 1982. Member: American Academy (honorary), 1975. Died: 20 September 1985.

Publications

Collection

Romanzi e Racconti, edited by Claudio Milanini. 1992.

Novels

Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno. 1947; as The Path to Nest of Spiders, 1956; printed with preface by author, 1964.

I nostri antenati (trilogy). 1960; as Our Ancestors, 1980.

Il visconte dimezzato. 1952; as The Cloven Viscount, published with The Non-Existent Knight, 1962.

Il barone rampante. 1957; as The Baron in the Trees, 1959.

Il cavaliere inesistente. 1959; as The Non-Existent Knight, published with The Cloven Viscount, 1962.

La giornata d'uno scrutatore. 1963.

Short Stories

Ultimo viene il corvo. 1949; as Adam, One Afternoon, and Other Stories, 1957.

Fiabe italiane: Raccolte della tradizione popolare durante gli ultimi centro anni e transcritte in lingua dai vari dialette. 1956; as Italian Fables, 1959; as Italian Folk Tales, 1975; as Italian Folktales, 1980.

I racconti. 1958.

Marcovaldo; ovvero, Le stagioni in cittá. 1963; as Marcovaldo; or, The Seasons in the City, 1983.

La nuvola di smog e La formica argentina. 1965.

Le cosmicomiche. 1965; as Cosmicomics, 1968.

Ti con zero. 1967; as T Zero, 1969; as Time and the Hunter,

1970.

Gli amori difficili. 1970; as Difficult Loves, 1984.

The Watcher and Other Stories. 1971.

Le cittá invisibili. 1972; as Invisible Cities, 1974.

Il castello dei destini incrociati. 1974; as The Castle of Crossed Destinies, 1977.

Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore. 1979; as If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, 1981.

Palomar. 1983; as Mr. Palomar, 1985.

Sotto il sole giaguaro. 1986; as Under the Jaguar Tree, 1988.

La Strada di San Giovanni. 1990; as The Road to San Giovanni, 1993.

Also author of The Crow Comes Last and L'entrata in guerra [The Entry into War].

Play

Un re in ascolto [The King Listens] (opera libretto), music by Luciano Berio. 1984.

Other

Una pietra sopra: Discorsi di letteratura e societá. 1980.

Collezione di sabbia: Emblemi bizzarri e inquietanti del nostro passato e del nostro futuro gli oggetti raccontano il mondo. 1984.

The Uses of Literature. 1985.

The Literature Machine. 1987.

Six Memos for the Next Millennium (lectures). 1988.

Perché leggere i classici (essays). 1992.

Editor, Poesie edite e inedite, by Cesare Pavese. 1962.

Editor, Vittorini: Progettazione e letteratura. 1968.

*

Critical Studies:

Calvino: A Reappraisal and an Appreciation of the Trilogy by J. R. Woodhouse, 1968; Calvino, Writer and Critic by JoAnn Cannon, 1981; "Calvino" by Richard Andrews, in Writers and Society in Contemporary Italy, edited by Michael Caesar and Peter Hainsworth, 1984; Italo Calvino issue of The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 6(2), Summer 1986; Italo Calvino, edited by Harold Bloom, 1988; Calvino and the Age of Neorealism: Fables of Estrangement by Lucia Re, 1990; Calvino: A San Remo by Piero Ferrara, 1991; Understanding Italo Calvino by Beno Weiss, 1993; Italo Calvino: Eros and Language by Tommasina Gabriele, 1994; Italo Calvino by Martin McLaughlin, 1997; Italo Calvino: AJourney Toward Postmodernism by Constance Markey, 1999; Italo Calvino and the Landscape of Childhood by Claudia Nocentini, 2000; Painting with Words, Writing with Pictures: Word and Image in the Work of Italo Calvino by Franco Ricci, 2001.

* * *

Italo Calvino rarely grappled with the Holocaust directly in his writings, but he was nevertheless deeply marked by the events of World War II and by his own anti-Nazi activities. He was conscripted by the army of the fascist puppet state the Republic of Salo but fled the draft. Instead, he joined the Italian Resistance movement, even though his parents were taken hostage by the Nazis and imprisoned as a gesture of retaliation. Calvino's experiences as a Garibaldi partisan from 1944 to 1945 were crucial to the development of his political and moral beliefs. They also formed the basis for his first novel, The Path to the Nest of Spiders, considered a ground-breaking example of neo-realist literature in Italian and a strong voice in the country's post-war attempts at coming to terms with the war and Benito Mussolini's term in power.

This novel belongs to the earliest cycle in Calvino's output, a period from 1945 to 1949 in which he wrote highly realistic, concretely imagined stories set during the war and influenced by the staccato style of Ernest Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants , which made a strong impression on him as a young man. Calvino was already well known when he published it; he was first brought to the public eye by the short story collection The Crow Comes Last, which won the Premio de l'Unita prize in 1947. These stories, as well as the semi-autobiographical L'entrata in guerra ("The Entry into War"), contain numerous elements that Calvino would later rework in his acclaimed The Path to the Nest of Spiders. Many of the characters are the same—the small boy as narrator, the pedantic Marxist partisan cook, the sadistic young men fascinated more by weapons than by a cause. Both are set in the poverty-stricken towns of northern Italy, where the mostly Communist partisans compete with the black shirt brigades for supporters, and the general populace often seems confused about the difference between the two sides. Calvino portrays men at a stage before they have reached the full political consciousness necessary for commitment to an abstract cause. Although Calvino is certainly on the side of the partisans in this novel, he differs from other wartime novelists such as Elio Vittorini and Marcello Venturi in that he realizes that the struggle is more complex than a Manichean battle between good and evil. By recognizing the flaws of the partisans as well as their heroism and enthusiasm, he arrives at a portrait that is at once more interesting and more real.

The Holocaust is absent from most of Calvino's fiction, particularly the immediate post-war works. His portrayals of Nazi officers and conscripted German sailors emphasize their alienness to local characters and local politics. They are ignored or exploited, fought against or used as allies, but their ideology appears absurd, and despite their authority they are turned into pawns of local power struggles. Calvino came to grips privately with the horror of the Holocaust and the anti-Semitism that existed in Italian as well as German society. He was a great friend and admirer of Primo Levi, the Italian writer interned in Auschwitz, and wrote several prefaces to Levi's work.

The main importance of the writing from Calvino's early period is the key role it played in the development of the neo-realist novel in contemporary European literature. Like the films of Rossellini and de Sica, the early stories presented a new realism of content (in contrast to the realism of nineteenth-century novels or the censured fiction under fascism), a new realism of style (implying a more authentic representation of popular Italian, including dialect and regionalisms), and a socio-political message influenced by Marxism. Calvino's lengthy and witty 1964 preface to The Path to the Nest of Spiders is perhaps the best introduction to his wartime writings and to his place in the neo-realist movement, which he calls "the anonymous voice of the age," even though the preface is written from the perspective of a much older man looking back critically at his youth. By 1964 Calvino had already turned away from neo-realism in order to write fantastical, playful, and decidedly postmodern fictions such as Invisible Cities, Cosmicomics, and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, the works for which he is justly most famous. Whatever technical fireworks his early post-war fiction may lack, however, they are skilled and seamless evocations, simultaneously the most historical and the most personal stories of Calvino's career.

—Christina Svendsen

See the essay on The Path to the Nest of Spiders.

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Calvino, Italo

CALVINO, Italo

Nationality: Italian. Born: Santiago de las Vegas, Cuba, 15 October 1923; grew up in San Remo, Italy. Education: The University of Turin, graduated 1947. Military Service: Conscripted into Young Facists, 1940; left and served in the Italian Resistance, 1943-45. Family: Married Chichita Singer in 1964; one daughter. Career: Member of the editorial staff, Einaudi, publishers, Turin, from 1947; co-editor, Il Menabò, Milan, 1959-66. Awards: Viareggio prize, 1957; Bagutta prize, 1959; Veillon prize, 1963; Feltrinelli prize, 1972; Austrian State Prize for European Literature, 1976; Nice Festival prize, 1982. Member: American Academy, 1975 (honorary member). Died: 20 September 1985.

Publications

Collections

Romanzi e Racconti, edited by Claudio Milanini. 1992—.

Short Stories

Ultimo viene il corvo. 1949; as Adam, One Afternoon, and Other Stories, 1957.

Fiabe italiane: Raccolte della tradizione popolare durante gli ultimi cento anni e transcritte in lingua dai vari dialetti. 1956; as Italian Fables, 1959; as Italian Folk Tales, 1975; complete translation, as Italian Folktales, 1980.

I racconti. 1958.

Marcovaldo; ovvero, Le stagioni in città. 1963; as Marcovaldo; or, The Seasons in the City, 1983.

La nuvola di smog e La formica argentina. 1965.

Le cosmicomiche. 1965; as Cosmicomics, 1968.

Ti con zero. 1967; as T Zero, 1969; as Time and the Hunter, 1970.

Gli amori difficili. 1970; as Difficult Loves, 1984.

The Watcher and Other Stories. 1971.

Le città invisibili. 1972; as Invisible Cities, 1974.

Il castello dei destini incrociati. 1973; as The Castle of Crossed Destinies, 1977.

Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore. 1979; as If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, 1981.

Palomar. 1983; as Mr. Palomar, 1985.

Sotto il sole giaguaro. 1986; as Under the Jaguar Tree, 1988.

La Strada di Giovanni. n.d.; as The Road to San Giovanni, 1993.

Novels

Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno. 1947; as The Path to the Nest of Spiders, 1956.

I nostri antenati. 1960; as Our Ancestors, 1980.

Il visconte dimezzato. 1952; as The Cloven Viscount (with The Non-Existent Knight), 1962.

Il barone rampante. 1957; as The Baron in the Trees, 1959.

Il cavaliere inesistente. 1959; as The Non-Existent Knight (with The Cloven Viscount), 1962.

La giornata d'uno scrutatore. 1963.

Play

Un re in ascolto [The King Listens] (opera libretto), music by Luciano Berio. 1984.

Other

Una pietra sopra: Discorsi di letteratura e società. 1980.

Collezione di sabbia: Emblemi bizzarri e inquietanti del nostro passato e del nostro futuro gli oggetti raccontano il mondo. 1984.

The Uses of Literature. 1986.

The Literature Machine. 1987.

Six Memos for the Next Millennium (lectures). 1988.

Perchè leggere i classici (essays). 1992.

Editor, Poesie edite e inedite, by Cesare Pavese. 1962.

Editor, Vittorini: Progettazione e letteratura. 1968.

*

Critical Studies:

Calvino: A Reappraisal and an Appreciation of the Trilogy by J. R. Woodhouse, 1968; Calvino, Writer and Critic by JoAnn Cannon, 1981; "Calvino" by Richard Andrews, in Writers and Society in Contemporary Italy edited by Michael Caesar and Peter Hainsworth, 1984; Calvino and the Age of Neorealism: Fables of Estrangement by Lucia Re, 1990; Calvino: a San Remo by Piero Ferrara, 1991; Understanding Italo Calvino by Beno Weiss, 1993.

* * *

Italo Calvino wrote of his experiences during World War II in his first novel, Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno (The Path to the Nest of Spiders), and his war stories of the late 1940s. In the preface to the trilogy I nostroi antenati (Our Ancestors) Calvino describes the gatherings around campfires, where the heroes of the day's exploits recounted their adventures. At this time there was no doubt in his narrative about the existence of a narrator and a hero. He also spoke in that preface about the hero "affirming himself as a human being." And he said that narrative suspense (and he used the English word) was like salt and declared his lack of interest in descriptions of interior scenes and the trappings of the psychological novel.

It is obvious even in his early works that Calvino is a storyteller. In fact it has been pointed out that he only wrote one other novel, La giornata d'uno scrutatore, the story of a "teller" in the parliamentary elections. Even the historical novels of Our Ancestors are tales in the manner of Voltaire's Candide. The narrators of Il visconte dimezzato (The Cloven Viscount) and Il barone rampante (The Baron in the Trees) are both observers, members of the hero's family. But the third tale in order of composition, Il cavaliere inesistente (The Non-Existent Knight), turns out to have a surprisingly active narrator who balances nicely the nonentity of the hero. The existance of observers, performers, and narrators took on more importance in his work.

During the 1950s Calvino worked for his publisher, Einaudi, making a collection of popular tales of the last hundred years from all over the Italian peninsula. This study, he said, taught him something about the economy of the tale. He became interested in the theory of narrative. Later when he lived in Paris he became involved in the Oulipo movement, and also followed closely the discussions of the structuralists and semioticians. The collection Fiabe italiane (Italian Folk Tales) had been partly an exercise in popular culture. As a communist until the Hungary episode, and founder with Vittorini of Il Menabò di Letterature, which aimed at bringing literature into closer contact with modern society, Calvino also wanted to reflect more reality in his stories. The peasant hero had fulfilled this role in the 1930s and 1940s. Calvino chose instead a city worker, gave him a fantastic Germanic-sounding name, Marcovaldo, and made him the hero of a set of stories representing the trials of the modern worker who still hankers after the countryside. Along the pavements Marcovaldo picks mushrooms, which are poisoning half his street, and cuts down forests of advertising hoardings along the motorway in order to keep his family warm. An element of Ariostesque fantasy is still present, just as it was in the early stories and the trilogy. Marcovaldo is less successful in his undertakings than the heroes of the war stories, but both groups of tales appeared in the collected short stories (I racconti) of 1958 as "Difficult Idylls." There was also a series called Gli amori difficili (Difficult Loves), in which the hero or heroine is in some way hampered in personal relationships: a short-sighted man cannot recognize his friends without his new spectacles, but wearing them he is himself unrecognisable; a bather loses her swimming costume out at sea while bathing off a busy beach.

In the mid-1960s Calvino's fiction took a new turn. Both his parents were scientists, which perhaps accounted for his move towards a realistic science fiction in Le cosmicomiche (Cosmicomics) and Ti con zero (Time and the Hunter). In these two collections of short stories we meet for the first time a serial narrator figure named Qfwfq, like a scientific formula. Qfwfq has been present through all time, from the first "Big Bank" (a kind of primordial pasta party) to, for instance, the arrival of colors and the evolution of birds. He is a figure who is as comfortable among the dinosaurs as he is on Staten Island. His language is ordinary speech, not quite up to telling of the marvels he has witnessed, unlike the language of the scientists that prefixes each episode. The gap between the ordinary language and the strangeness creates the fantasy that brings the marvels to life. In "All at One Point" the creation and the Big Bank depend on Mrs. Ph(i)NKo's generous impulse: "Boys, the noodles I would make for you!" In the third part of Time and the Hunter, however, we find Qfwfq eclipsed and a more serious narrator takes over, an anonymous survivor imprisoned in time, in traffic jams, in futile night driving. The collection ends with the borrowed figure of the Count of Monte Cristo, a prisoner in the appropriately named Chateau d'If, trying to find an escape route by pure reason without action, and so spiralling out through the realms of science, history, literature, and philosophical speculation.

Numerical patterning was becoming more and more important for Calvino. In "Cybernetics and Ghosts," an essay of 1967, he said that he considered narrative a "combinatorial process." In Invisible Cities—in which Marco Polo is the narrator—the accounts are placed in nine series interspersed with discussions between storyteller and listener, ten cities at the beginning and the end, with seven collections of five each in between. The numbers "nine" and "ten" are powerful in the Dantesque tradition, and represent a way of accommodating reality to the rational mind. Marco Polo's last advice to Kublai Khan is to recognize who and what in Hell, which is around us, is not Hell, and to let that endure and give it space. The task is one of observation, recognition, and discrimination, resembling that of the Count of Monte Cristo contemplating his escape.

Il castello dei destini incrociati (The Castle of Crossed Destinies) presents another series of stories, some with very well-known heroes, like Orlando, Faust, and Parsifal. The new problem, however, is one of enunciation. The storytellers gathered in the castle are mute, and so are forced to pattern out their tales using significant objects, such as the fifteenth-century Tarot pack (in the case of the accompanying story, "Tavern of Crossed Destinies," the better-known seventeenth-century French pack). The language is that of the writer who observes the layout of the cards as the stories are constructed. Colloquial speech, which was Qfwfq's medium, is thus banished.

Se una notta d'inverno un viaggiatore (If on a Winter's Night a Traveller) leaves us again in the hands of the writer, not to mention the (male) Reader and the (female) Reader. At stake is not only the relationship between storyteller and Readers (and readers) but the very thread of suspense, that original salt, that is snapped ten different times by accidents occurring to texts between the manuscript stage and actual perusal. The relationship between author and Readers (each addressed in the very intimate Tu form) is conducted in twelve alternating chapters ending in the fulfillment of their wedding night: "And you say, 'Just a moment, I've almost finished If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino."'

Palomar (Mr. Palomar) is again a series. Twenty-seven pieces make nine groups of three (Dantesque numbers again), which originally appeared during the 1970s and 1980s in newspapers such as Il Corriere della Sera and Le Repubblica. Mr. Palomar is named after the giant telescope, and the name also resembles the Italian word for "diver," palombaro. He is essentially the reasonable observer trying to capture and set down the reality around him, from the strictly limited stretch of waves in the sea off his beach to a rock and sand garden in Kyoto. The task is to examine the limits of the powers of the writer's point of view. The experiment ends with the death of the narrator as he tries to evade time by describing it. It has been argued that Mr. Palomar and Calvino could be the same person, especially since the essays in Collezione di sabbia (Collection of Sand) bear the same stamp.

Sotto il solo giaguaro (Under the Jaguar Sun), published posthumously, was to have contained five stories dealing with the senses. A writer concerned with observation and description must naturally tackle perception. Only taste, hearing, and the sense of smell were finished. In another unfinished work, Six Memos for the Next Millennium, planned as the Charles Eliot Norton Poetry Lectures at Harvard, Calvino left six titles as aids for an understanding of his approach to fiction: Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, Multiplicity, and Consistency, the last unwritten. For such an experimental master of the tale, they make a fitting epitaph.

—Judy Rawson

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Calvino, Italo

Calvino, Italo

Personal

Born October 15, 1923, in Santiago de las Vagas, Cuba; died following a cerebral hemorrhage September 19, 1985, in Siena, Italy; son of Mario (a botanist) and Eva (a botanist; maiden name, Mameli) Calvino; married Chichita Singer (a translator), February 19, 1964; children: Giovanna. Education: University of Turin, graduated, 1947.

Career

Writer. Giulio Einaudi Editore (publisher), Turin, Italy, member of editorial staff, 1947-83; lecturer. Wartime service: Member of Italian Resistance, 1943-45.

Awards, Honors

Viareggio prize, 1957; Bagutta prize, 1959, for I racconti; Veillon prize, 1963; Feltrinelli prize, 1972; honorary member of American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1975; Österreichiches Stätspreis für Europäische Literatur, 1976; Italian Folktales named among American Library Association's Notable Books of the Year, 1980; Grande Aigle d'Or, Festival du Livre (Nice, France), 1982; honorary degree from Mount Holyoke College, 1984; Riccione prize, for Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno.

Writings

FICTION

Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1947, translation by Archibald Colquhoun published as The Path to the Nest of Spiders, Collins (London, England), 1956, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1957, revised edition, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Ultimo viene il corvo (short stories; title means "Last Comes the Crow"; also see below), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1949.

Il visconte dimezzato (novel; title means "The Cloven Viscount"; also see below), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1952.

L'entrata en guerra (short stories; title means "Entering the War"), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1954.

Il barone rampante (novel; also see below), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1957, translation by Archibald Colquhoun published as The Baron in the Trees, Random House (New York, NY), 1959, Italian text published under original title with introduction, notes and vocabulary by J. R. Woodhouse, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1970.

Il cavaliere inesistente (novel; title means "The Non-existent Knight"; also see below), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1959.

La giornata d'uno scutatore (novella; title means "The Watcher"; also see below), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1963.

La speculazione edilizia (novella; title means "A Plunge into Real Estate"; also see below), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1963.

Ti con zero (stories), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1967, translation by William Weaver published as T Zero, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1969, published as Time and the Hunter, J. Cape (London, England), 1970.

Le cosmicomiche (stories), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), translation by William Weaver published as Cosmicomics, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1968.

La memoria del mondo (stories; title means "Memory of the World"), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1968.

La citta invisibili (novel), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1972, translation by Weaver published as Invisible Cities, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1974.

Il castello dei destini incrociati (includes text originally published in Tarocchi), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1973, translation by Weaver published as The Castle of Crossed Destinies, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1976.

Marcovaldo ovvero le stagioni in citta, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1973, translation by William Weaver published as Marcovaldo; or, The Seasons in the City, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1983.

Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore (novel), 1979, translation by William Weaver published as If on a winter's night a traveler, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1981.

Palomar (novel), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1983, translation by William Weaver published as Mr. Palomar, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1985.

Cosmicomiche vecchie e nuove (title means "Cosmicomics Old and New"), Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1984.

Sotto il sole giaguaro (stories), Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1986, translation by William Weaver published as Under the Jaguar Sun, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1988.

Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1995.

(Editor and author of introduction) Fantastic Tales: Visionary and Everyday, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1997.

Lettere 1940-1985, edited by Luca Baranelli, introduction by Claudio Milanini, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 2000.

Contributor to books, including Tarocchi, F. M. Ricci (Parma, Italy), 1969, translated as Tarots: The Viscount Pack in Bergamo and New York, 1975.

OMNIBUS VOLUMES

Adam, One Afternoon and Other Stories (contains translation by Colquhoun and Peggy White of stories in Ultimo viene il corvo and of "La formica argentina"; also see below), Collins (London, England), 1957.

I racconti (title means "Stories"; includes "La nuvola de smog" and "La formica argentina"; also see below), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1958.

I nostri antenati (contains Il cavaliere inesistente, Il visconte dimezzato, and Il barone rampante; also see below), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1960, translation by Archibald Colquhoun with new introduction by the author published as Our Ancestors, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1980.

The Nonexistent Knight and The Cloven Viscount: Two Short Novels (contains translation by Archibald Colquhoun of Il visconte dimezzato and Il cavaliere inesistente), Random House (New York, NY), 1962.

La nuvola de smog e La formica argentina (also see below), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1965.

Gli amore dificile (contains stories originally published in Ultimo viene il corvo and I racconti), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1970, translation by William Weaver, Archibald Colquhoun, and Peggy Wright published as Difficult Loves, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1984, translation by Weaver and D. C. Carne-Ross published with their translations of "La nuvola de smog" and La speculazione edilizia under same title (also see below), Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1984.

The Watcher and Other Stories (contains translations by William Weaver, Archibald Colquhoun, and Peggy Wright of La giornata d'uno scutatore, "La nuvola de smog," and "La formica argentina"), Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1971.

EDITOR

Cesare Pavese, La letteratura americana e altri saggi, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1951.

(And reteller) Fiabe italiane: Raccolte della tradizione popolare durante gli ultimi cento anni e transcritte in lingua dai vari dialetti, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1956, portions translated by Louis Brigante as Italian Fables, Orion Press (New York, NY), 1959, translation of complete text by George Martin published as Italian Folktales, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1980.

Cesare Pavese, Poesie edite e inedite, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1962.

Cesare Pavese, Lettere (with Lorenzo Mondo and Davide Lajolo) Volume 1: 1924-1944 (sole editor), Volume 2: 1945-1950, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1966.

Vittorini: Progettazione e letteratura, All'Insegno del Pesce d'Oro, 1968.

(And reteller) Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando furioso, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1970.

Jakob Ludwig Karl Grimm and Wilhelm Karl Grimm, Fiabe, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1970.

L'uccel belverde e altre fiabe italiane, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1972, translation by Sylvia Mulcahy of selections published as Italian Folk Tales, Dent (London, England), 1975.

Il principe granchio e altre fiabe italiane, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1974.

Racconti fantastici dell'ottocento, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1983, translation published as Fantastical Tales, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1994.

Also editor of fiction series "Cento Pagi" for Einaudi. Co-editor with Elio Vittorini of literary magazine Il Menabo, 1959-66.

OTHER

Una pietra sopra: discorsi di letteratura e societa, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1980, translation by Patrick Creagh published as The Uses of Literature: Essays, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1986.

Collezione di sabbia: emblemi bizzarri e inquietanti del nostro passato e del nostro futuro gli og getti raccontano il mondo (articles), Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1984.

Six Memos for the Next Millennium (lectures), originally published as Sulla fiaba, translation by Patrick Creagh, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1988.

The Road to San Giovanni (autobiographical essays originally published as ITA), translation by Tim Parks, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1993.

Album Calvino, edited by Luca Baranelli Ernesto Ferrero, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1995.

(Co-contributor with Valerio Adami) Adami: Itinerari dello sguardo (title means Adami: Itineraries of the Look), edited by Julian Zugazagoitia, texts of Adolfo Echeverria, Electa (Milan, Italy), c. 1997.

Ali Baba: progetto di una rivista, 1968-1972 (title means Ali Baba: Project of a Magazine, 1968-1972), edited by Mario Barenghi and Marco Belpoliti, Marcos y Marcos (Milan, Italy), 1998.

(Additional writing) Franco Antonicelli, Finibusterre, edited by Antonio Lucio Giannone Nardo, Besa (Lecce, Italy), c. 1999.

Why Read the Classics?, translated from the Italian by Martin McLaughlin, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1999.

(Contributor of story) Ilaria Caputi, Il cinema di Folco Quilici, introduction by Tullio Kezich Venezia, Scuola Nazionale di Cinema, 2000.

Aventures (children's picture book), illustrated by Yan Nascimbene, Editions du Seuil (Paris, France), 2001.

The Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings, translated from the Italian by Martin McLaughlin, Pantheon (New York, NY), 2003.

Sidelights

"After forty years of writing fiction, after exploring various roads and making diverse experiments, the time has come for me to look for an overall definition of my work," Italian novelist and short story writer Italo Calvino announced in his Six Memos for the Next Millennium. "I would suggest this: my working method has more often than not involved the subtraction of weight. I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities; above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language." Taking this as his guiding principle, it is no accident that Calvino is best known for the monumental collection of Italian fables he edited as well as for the fable-like short stories, novellas, and novels he wrote. That elemental and ancient structure of fiction became, in Calvino's hand, a sophisticated tool for challenging readers' assumptions about morality, ethics, time, and place. Commenting in the New York Times Book Review, for example, novelist John Gardner called Calvino "one of the world's best fabulists." Although he wrote in what Patchy Wheatley referred to in the Listener as a "dazzling variety of fictional styles," his stories and novels were all fables for adults. Gore Vidal noted in a New York Review of Books essay that because Calvino both edited and wrote fables he was "someone who reached not only primary school children . . . but, at one time or another, everyone who reads." And for Franco Ricci, writing in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Calvino was not simply about fables. "Calvino has long been recognized," Ricci wrote, "as one of the most prominent writers of the twentieth century. At once experimental and accessible, he is able to fuse sophisticated narrative techniques with pleasurable storytelling."

Calvino's theory of literature, established very early in his career, dictated his use of the fable. For Calvino, to write any narrative was to write a fable. In Guide to Contemporary Italian Literature: From Futurism to Neorealism, Sergio Pacifici quoted a portion of Calvino's 1955 essay "Il midollo del leone" ("The Lion's Marrow") in which the novelist wrote: "The mold of the most ancient fables: the child abandoned in the woods or the knight who must survive encounters with beasts and enchantments remains the irreplaceable scheme of all human stories."

To understand Calvino, therefore, one must first understand the fable. Calvino "portrayed the world around him," Sara Maria Adler noted in Calvino: The Writer as Fablemaker, "in the same way it is portrayed in the traditional fable. In all his works, the nature of his narrative coincides with those ingredients which constitute the underlying structure of the genre." A traditional fable, Adler explained, is told from a child's point of view and usually has a young protagonist. Although not all of Calvino's protagonists or narrators are young, John Gatt-Rutter maintained in the Journal of European Studies, "The childlike psychology is characteristic of all [of them], whatever their supposed age." The presence of such a youthful narrator/protagonist in Calvino's work lent a fanciful touch to his fiction because, according to Pacifici, "only a youngster possesses a real sense of enchantment with nature, a sense of tranquility and discovery of the mysteries of life."

Another aspect of the fable is what Adler called "the basic theme of tension between character and environment." A typical tale might have a child lost in the woods, for example. Such tension is also a constant in Calvino's fiction. Adler noted, "No matter what the nature of the author's fantasy may be, in every case his characters are faced with a hostile, challenging environment [over] which they are expected to triumph." In "The Argentine Ant," for instance, a family moves to a house in the country only to find it inhabited by thousands of ants. In a more comic example from Mr. Palomar, the title character must decide how to walk by a sunbather who has removed her bathing suit top—without appearing either too interested or too indifferent.

A Born Fabulist

Calvino's own life takes on some of these aspects of fable. Born under the sign of Libra, in 1923, he felt that even such a birth date was significant in his choice of career, for the Italian word for "book" is libro. His parents were both traveling botanists, working as agronomists in Cuba, where Calvino was born. Not long after his birth, the family returned to Italy, and Calvino was raised in San Remo, near the French border. This was the Italy of Mussolini, but Calvino managed to escape the usual Fascist indoctrination of the times, as well as religious indoctrination, attending public rather than church schools. With a family tradition of careers in science, Calvino attended the University of Turin's School of Agriculture, where his father was a distinguished professor. His education was, however, interrupted by the war and the German occupation. Calvino's parents were taken into custody by the Nazis and he received induction orders for the army. Instead of reporting, Calvino took to the hills, joining the Garibaldi Brigade resistance fighters operating in the Maritime Alps. Here he fought not only Germans but also Italian fascists.

With war's end in 1945, Calvino returned to college, though this time he studied literature, doing his graduate thesis on the writer Joseph Conrad. He also became a member of the Communist Party, working for leftist newspapers such as L'Unita and Il Politecnico. His earliest fiction writings were heavily influenced by neorealism, at the time the dominant literary movement in Italy. Cesare Pavese and the other authors in this movement, who had been kept from writing about the world around them by government censorship, now turned wholeheartedly to their everyday life for themes and action for their narratives. Together they formed the neorealist literary movement and, according to Nicholas A. DeMara in the Italian Quarterly, drew "material directly from life and . . . reproduce[d] faithfully real situations through traditional methods."

Conceived in this milieu, Calvino's first novel, The Path to the Nest of Spiders, and his short story collections, Adam, One Afternoon and L'entrata in guerra ("Entering the War"), are all realistic. A Times Literary Supplement reviewer noted, for example, that the narratives were "sometimes based on autobiography, and mainly set against the background of recent Italian history and politics." But even while the three works portrayed the realities of war, Calvino's imagination was the dominant element. In the collections of stories, mostly written between 1945 and 1949, Calvino manages to bring together narratives that are stylistically different yet share common themes of war and life under Fascism, "often seen through the eyes of unreliable narrators," according to Ricci.

In The Path to the Nest of Spiders, Calvino once again takes as his subject the recently completed war, but this time it is as seen through the eyes of a young and rather naively innocent narrator. This picaresque tale aimed to present the resistance fighters not as grandiose heroes or as cunning opportunists, but rather as fallible human beings. Pin, the youthful narrator, joins the Partisans when he steals a German's pistol as a practical joke that goes badly wrong. Through Pin and his fellow Partisans, readers can view diverse aspects of the war and the immediate postwar. According to Ricci, this novel provides "an invaluable portrait of postwar Italy."

The Italian novelist Pavese was one of the first to note the appearance of fantasy in Calvino's work. Adler reported that, in a 1947 review of The Path to the Nest of Spiders, Pavese praised the book's originality, noting "the shrewdness of Calvino, squirrel of the pen, has been this, to climb upon the plants, more in play than out of fear, and to observe . . . life like a fable of the forest, noisy, multi-colored, [and] 'different.'" Following the standard form of a fable, The Path to the Nest of Spiders has a young protagonist. According to critics DeMara and Adler, Calvino's choice of Pin as his protagonist allowed the novelist to add fanciful elements to an otherwise realistic story. "In [The Path to the Nest of Spiders]," DeMara stated, "Calvino portray[ed] an essentially realistic world, but through the use of the adolescent figure he [was] frequently able to inject into the work a sense of fantasy." Pin is nearly a child, and he describes his world as many children do, using a combination of real and imaginary elements. A fable-like quality is added to the novel, Adler observed, because "seen through the boy's own eyes . . . [everything] is thus infused with a fanciful and spirited attitude toward life. . . . The countryside may be as lyrical as an animated cartoon, while at other times it may assume the proportions of a nightmare."

Calvino's childlike imagination and sense of playfulness filled his work with fantasy but also served another purpose. According to J. R. Woodhouse in Italo Calvino: A Reappraisal and Appreciation of the Trilogy, "Calvino's description of child-like candour is often a very telling way of pointing to an anomaly, a stupidity in society, as well as providing a new and refreshing outlook on often well-worn themes." In this way Calvino added another fable-like dimension to his work—that of moral instruction. Thus, with this very first novel, as Ricci noted, "Calvino set himself at the crossroads of his destiny."

From Neorealism to Fabulist Prose

Calvino's connection to Pavese took a more concrete form than that of literary influence. It also led the young writer to not only publish with but also join the editorial staff of the new Italian publishing house, Einaudi. Calvino would remain with this publisher for the rest of his life. He tried his hand at two abortive novels in the next few years, until he finally began to find his own voice in a trio of short novels. Young people play prominent roles in all three of the novels in Calvino's Our Ancestors trilogy: The Cloven Viscount, The Baron in the Trees, and The Nonexistent Knight. The "tension between character and environment" and the moral intent are also clear in the three works. They demonstrate the reasoning behind JoAnn Cannon's assertion in Modern Fiction Studies that "the fantastic in Calvino is not a form of escapism, but is grounded in a persistent sociopolitical concern."

The narrator of The Baron in the Trees, for instance, is the younger brother of the twelve-year-old baron of the title who ascends into the trees to avoid eating snail soup. In Books Abroad, Pacifici noted that The Baron in the Trees stands for man "who, by choosing and acting an extraordinarily eccentric role, tries to fulfill a certain aspiration of diversity apparently denied to man in our age." And in his introduction to Our Ancestors, Calvino explained the meaning of The Cloven Viscount, a narrative about a soldier split in half by a cannonball during a crusade: "Mutilated, incomplete, an enemy to himself is modern man; Marx called him 'alienated,' Freud 'repressed'; a state of ancient harmony is lost, [and] a new state of completeness aspired to." With The Nonexistent Knight, Calvino chooses to tell the adventures of a suit of armor whose inhabitant has no corporeal form; it is spirit only. All three tales are a blending of historical setting, with the methods of fantasy, fable, and comedy combined to spotlight the foibles of modern life.

From Folktales to Science Fiction

During the 1950s, Calvino lived in Rome; with the Soviet's crushing of the Hungarian Uprising in 1956, he left the Communist Party, skeptical of Stalinism and of politics in general. In 1956 he published Italian Folktales, in which he researched, rewrote and compiled hundreds of such ancient folk stories, a work that cemented his literary position on both sides of the Atlantic. The collection was ultimately ranked in importance with the work of the German Brothers Grimm. In 1959, Calvino visited the United States for half a year, and then in the early 1960s moved to Paris where he met and married a UNESCO translator, Chichita Singer, who was originally from Argentina.

Calvino's ability to fuse reality and fantasy also captured the imagination of critics worldwide. For example, in the New York Times Book Review Alan Cheuse wrote about Calvino's "talent for transforming the mundane into the marvelous," and in the London Review of Books Salman Rushdie referred to Calvino's "effortless ability of seeing the miraculous in the quotidian." According to New York Times reviewer Anatole Broyard, the books in which Calvino perfected this tendency were three later works: Cosmicomics, Invisible Cities, and If on a winter's night a traveler. With their juxtaposition of fantasy and reality these books led critics such as John Updike and John Gardner to compare Calvino with two other master storytellers noted for using the same technique in their fiction: Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez.

The stories in Cosmicomics—as well as most of the stories in T Zero and La memoria del mondo (Memory of the World)—chronicle the adventures of Qfwfq, a strange, chameleon-like creature who was present at the beginning of the universe, the formation of the stars, and the disappearance of the dinosaurs. In a playful scene typical of Calvino—and reminiscent of the comic episodes of García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude—Qfwfq describes how time began: According to his story, all the universe was contained in a single point until the day one of the inhabitants of the point, Mrs. Ph(i)Nko, decided to make pasta for everyone. Rushdie explained, "The explosion of the universe outwards . . . is precipitated by the first generous impulse, the first-ever 'true outburst of general love,' when . . . Mrs. Ph(i)Nko cries out: 'Oh, if I only had some room, how I'd love to make some noodles for you boys.'" For a contributor to St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, both Cosmicomics and T Zero were true examples of science fiction writing. In the former novel, according to this reviewer, Calvino presents a "perspective on the struggle to survive on planet Earth and in the universe," while T Zero "considers the meaning of time, space, motion, and values."

Even as his fiction became more and more fantastic in the Qfwfq stories, Calvino continued to maintain the moral and social overtones present in his earlier work. In Science-Fiction Studies, Teresa de Lauretis observed that while Calvino's fiction acquired a science-fiction quality during the 1960s and 1970s due to its emphasis on scientific and technological themes, it was still based on specific human concerns. "The works," she commented, "were all highly imaginative, scientifically informed, funny and inspired meditations on one insistent question: What does it mean to be human, to live and die, to reproduce and to create, to desire and to be?" In a New Yorker review Updike made a similar observation about the seriousness underlying Calvino's fantasies. Updike wrote: "Calvino is . . . curious about the human truth as it becomes embedded in its animal, vegetable, historical, and comic contexts; all his investigations spiral in upon the central question of How shall we live?"

International Fame

Invisible Cities was the book which Calvino called his "most finished and perfect" in a Saturday Review interview with Alexander Stille. It was also, according to Lorna Sage in the London Observer, "the book that first brought him large-scale international acclaim." Invisible Cities relates an imaginary conversation between the thirteenth-century explorer Marco Polo and the emperor Kublai Khan in which Polo describes fifty-five different cities within the emperor's kingdom. Critics applauded the book for the beauty of Calvino's descriptions. In the New Republic, for instance, Albert H. Carter III called it "a sensuous delight, a sophisticated literary puzzle," while in the Chicago Tribune Constance Markey judged it "a fragile tapestry of mood pieces." Perhaps the most generous praise came from Times Literary Supplement contributor Paul Bailey, who observed, "This most beautiful of [Calvino's] books throws up ideas, allusions, and breathtaking imaginative insights on almost every page."

Invisible Cities also offers a moral to be pondered. Adler explained: "Polo's task is that of teaching the aging Kublai Khan to give a new meaning to his life by challenging the evil forces in his domain and by insuring the safety of whatever is just....[Polo's] observations . . . are a general explanation of the world—a panoramic view where rich and poor, the living and the dead, young and old, are challenged by the complex battles of existence."

In the Hudson Review, Dean Flower compared Invisible Cities with one of Calvino's later novels, The Castle of Crossed Destinies, calling them both "less novels than meditations on the mysteries of fictive structures." This statement could also be applied to Calvino's most experimental novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. The Castle of Crossed Destinies, like The Nonexistent Knight, is a chivalric tale filled with knights and adventure. If on a winter's night a traveler, however, is not only different from Calvino's previous work, it is also marked by a complexity that makes it his least fable-like book.

In If on a winter's night a traveler, Calvino parodied modern fictional styles in a complicated novel-within-a-novel format. The story begins with a man finding that the novel he has just purchased has a problem: a Polish novel is bound within the pages of the original novel. Going back to the bookshop, this man then meets a young woman and together they discover that their books contain ten different tales, and Calvino's mega-story alternates between each in turn. Ricci noted that "the reader is soon pulled into this tour de force that is, in fact, ten separate novels in one." A "potpourri of literary styles and themes," according to Ricci, the novel leads from one tale to another. "It is first and foremost a detective novel in search of itself," Ricci further explained. But even this novel included at least one element of the fable. In Newsweek Jim Miller noted that in Calvino's introduction to Italian Folktales the novelist wrote, "There must be present . . . the infinite possibilities of mutation, the unifying element in everything: men, beasts, plants, things." While the fable explores mutation in nature, in If on a winter's night a traveler Calvino explored the "infinite possibilities of mutation" within the novel.

In 1980 Calvino and his family returned to Italy, taking up residence near the Italian Riviera. In 1983, he published Mr. Palomar, a comic and abstract allegory whose protagonist takes his name from the Mount Palomar Observatory in Southern California. According to Ricci, Calvino's Palomar is a "visionary quester after knowledge," as well as a "wise and perceptive scanner of humanity's foibles and mores." In old age, Palomar—a classic loner and observer—wants to put some order to his life, and attempts to classify all aspects and every moment he has lived. Such meditations and speculations are encompassed in twenty-seven prose passages. Calvino did much the same for his own life with his 1984 publication of journalistic essays, Collezione di sabbia (Collections of Sand), the last book published during his lifetime. He died in 1985, in Siena, Italy, from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Posthumous Publications

After his death, Calvino's widow oversaw the issue of new volumes of his work in English. The Road to San Giovanni is a compilation of several essays or "memory exercises" that are the closest Calvino had come to at that point to writing an autobiography. These works span his development as a writer from his boyhood in San Remo during the 1930s, through his work in the Italian Resistance during World War II, to his experience as an expatriate in Paris during the 1960s. "The Calvino that emerges here is extremely self-conscious, offering finely observed evocations of the Italian landscape or a Parisian suburb, but also a running metacommentary on the act of writing a biography," wrote Lawrence Venuti in the New York Times Book Review. "A Cinema-Goers Autobiography" details Calvino's adolescent obsession with the movies, particularly American movies with their popular movie stars. Movies, for Calvino, helped him satisfy his craving for fantasy, which would show up later in his work. "Memories of Battle" chronicles a part of Calvino's resistance activities during the war, and also the vagaries of memory as he tries to recall it. The title essay tells of Calvino's rift with his father, who wanted him to continue in the family business of farming. John Updike commented in the New Yorker that "through this small, scattered, posthumous book, we draw closer to the innermost Calvino than we have before."

Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories, also published after Calvino's death, gave English-speaking audiences a chance to read some of the author's earlier short stories, as well as a few that had not been translated into English. These tales span his development from a 1943 story on a Communist brigade to a later work about a man who goes to get ice for his whisky and finds his apartment, upon return, turned into an icy world. "The earliest stories present a Calvino still preoccupied with the war and the impact of fascism," wrote Aamer Hussein in New Statesman and Society. "He demonstrates his belief—still prevalent among writers resisting dictatorships—in the fable as the best vehicle for veiled protest." Calvino moved from his early interest in communism to later esoteric works in which he conducts imaginary interviews with historical figures such as Montezuma, Henry Ford, and a Neanderthal. "This collection brings American readers a somewhat different Calvino, more the product of his cultural and political origins in Italy, but as ever a writer of fantasies that possess extraordinary precision and beauty," concluded Lawrence Venuti in the New York Times Book Review.

A further posthumous work, Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings, introduces to English readers twelve more short works exploring Calvino's life over three decades. The pieces here deal with topics including how Calvino achieved his peculiar writing style, aspects of the writer's youth, and his commitment to and ultimate disenchantment with Communism, as well as a diary of the six months Calvino spent in the United States from 1959 to 1960. For Pedro Ponce, writing in the Review of Contemporary Fiction, the American diary is "the true centerpiece of this collection." Ponce further noted that Calvino's "wry and often withering observations" of American culture deal with subjects from beatniks to Cold War patriotism. Reviewing the same work in Book, James Schiff noted that though Calvino had been dead nearly two decades, he "remains one of Italy's brightest literary stars." A contributor for Contemporary Review found that these collected writings "give us a unique insight into the Italian novelist and, in addition, to Italian history of the twentieth century." Ali Houissa, writing in Library Journal, similarly felt the collection was an "excellent" introduction to the author, while Booklist's Donna Seaman pronounced it a "delectable addition to a great writer's shelf."

If you enjoy the works of Italo Calvino

If you enjoy the works of Italo Calvino, you might want to check out the following books:

Jorge Luis Borges, Everything and Nothing, 1999.

Georges Perec, W or the Memory of Childhood, 1988.

Raymond Queneau, Witch Grass, 2003.

Calvino's childlike imagination allowed him to leave the tenets of neorealism behind and opened up infinite possibilities for his fiction. He imaginatively used the traditional fable form to write nontraditional fiction. Although he was a fabulist, according to Pacifici in A Guide to Modern Italian Literature, Calvino's works were "not . . . flights from reality but [came] from the bitter reality of our twentieth century. They are the means—perhaps the only means left to a writer tired of a photographic obsession with modern life—to re-create a world where people can still be people—that is, where people can still dream and yet understand."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Adler, Sara Maria, Calvino: The Writer as Fablemaker, Ediciones Jose Porrua Turanzas (Madrid, Spain), 1979.

Calvino, Italo, The Uses of Literature, translated by Patrick Creagh, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1986.

Calvino, Italo, Six Memos for the Next Millennium (lectures originally published as Sulla fiaba), translation by Patrick Creagh, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1988.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 5, 1976, Volume 8, 1978, Volume 11, 1979, Volume 22, 1982, Volume 33, 1984, Volume 39, 1986, Volume 73, 1993.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 196: Italian Novelists since World War II, 1965-1995, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999, pp. 50-67.

Gatt-Rutter, John, Writers and Politics in Modern Italy, Holmes & Meier (New York, NY), 1978.

Mandel, Siegfried, editor, Contemporary European Novelists, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1986.

Pacifici, Sergio, A Guide to Contemporary Italian Literature: From Futurism to Neorealism, World (New York, NY), 1962.

Re, Lucia, Calvino and the Age of Neorealism: Fables of Estrangement, Stanford University Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1990.

St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Tamburri, Anthony Julian, A Semiotic of Re-reading: Italo Calvino's "Snow Job," Chancery Press (New Haven, CT), 1998.

Woodhouse, J. R., Italo Calvino: A Reappraisal and an Appreciation of the Trilogy, University of Hull (Hull, England), 1968.

PERIODICALS

Atlantic, March, 1977.

Biography, summer, 2003, Michael Meshaw, review of Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings, pp. 519-520.

Book, May-June, 2003, James Schiff, review of Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings, pp. 83-84.

Booklist, March 15, 2003, Donna Seaman, review of Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings, p. 1268.

Chicago Tribune, November 10, 1985.

Commonweal, November 8, 1957; June 19, 1981; June 2, 1989, p. 339.

Contemporary Review, April, 2003, review of Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings, p. 256.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), July 7, 1984; January 25, 1986.

Hudson Review, summer, 1984.

Italian Quarterly, winter, 1971; winter-spring, 1989, pp. 5-15, 55-63.

Journal of European Studies, December, 1975.

Library Journal, March 15, 2003, Nancy Pearl, "Magical Realism: Beyond Fiction's Pale," p. 140; April 1, 2003, Ali Houissa, review of Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings, p. 96.

Listener, February 20, 1975; March 17, 1983, p. 24.

London Review of Books, September 30, 1981; March 26, 1992, pp. 20-21.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 27, 1983; October 6, 1985; October 20, 1985, p. 15.

Modern Fiction Studies, spring, 1978.

Nation, February 19, 1977; May 23, 1981; December 29, 1984-January 5, 1985.

New Criterion, December, 1985.

New Leader, May 16, 1988, p. 5; January 9, 1989, p. 19.

New Republic, October 17, 1988, pp. 38-43.

New Statesman, April 3, 1987, p. 27; December 1, 1995, Aamer Hussein, review of Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories, p. 38.

New Statesman and Society, February 21, 1992, p. 40.

Newsweek, February 14, 1977; November 17, 1980; June 8, 1981; November 28, 1983; October 8, 1984; October 21, 1985.

New Yorker, February 24, 1975; April 18, 1977; February 23, 1981; August 3, 1981; September 10, 1984; October 28, 1985, pp. 25-27; November 18, 1985; May 30, 1994, p. 105.

New York Review of Books, November 21, 1968; January 29, 1970; May 30, 1974; May 12, 1977; June 25, 1981; December 6, 1984; November 21, 1985; October 8, 1987, p. 13; September 29, 1988, p. 74; July 14, 1994, Michael Wood, "Agile among the Tombs," p. 14.

New York Times, October 11, 1959; August 6, 1968; January 13, 1971; May 5, 1981; November 9, 1983, p. C20; September 25, 1984; November 26, 1984; September 26, 1985.

New York Times Book Review, November 8, 1959; August 5, 1962; August 12, 1968; August 25, 1968; October 12, 1969; February 7, 1971; November 17, 1974; April 10, 1977; October 12, 1980; June 21, 1981; January 22, 1984, p. 8; October 7, 1984; March 20, 1988, pp. 1, 30; October 23, 1988, p. 7; October 10, 1993, Lawrence Venuti, review of The Road to San Giovanni, p. 11; November 26, 1995, Lawrence Venuti, review of Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories, p. 16.

New York Times Magazine, July 10, 1983.

PMLA, May, 1975.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, spring, 2002, Alan Tinkler, "Italo Calvino," pp. 59-95; summer, 2003, Pedro Ponce, review of Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings, p. 155.

Saturday Review, December 6, 1959; November 15, 1969; May, 1981; March-April, 1985.

Science-Fiction Studies, March, 1986, pp. 97-98.

Spectator, February 22, 1975; May 14, 1977; August 15, 1981; September 24, 1983, pp. 23-24; November 20, 1993, p. 46; February 22, 2003, Albert Manguel, "In Search of Himself and a City," p. 41.

Time, January 31, 1977; October 6, 1980; May 25, 1981; October 1, 1984; September 23, 1985; November 14, 1988, p. 95.

Times (London, England), July 9, 1981; September 1, 1983; October 3, 1985.

Times Literary Supplement, April 24, 1959; February 23, 1962; September 8, 1966; April 18, 1968; February 9, 1973; December 14, 1973; February 21, 1975; January 9, 1981; July 10, 1981; September 2, 1983; July 12, 1985; September 26, 1986; March 11, 1994, p. 29.

Village Voice, December 16, 1981.

Voice Literary Supplement, October, 1986.

Washington Post, January 13, 1984.

Washington Post Book World, April 25, 1971; October 12, 1980; June 7, 1981; November 18, 1984; September 22, 1985; November 16, 1986.

ONLINE

Libyrinth,http://www.themodernword.com/ (December 17, 2003), "Italo Calvino."

Pegasos,http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/ (December 17, 2003), "Italo Calvino."

Obituaries

PERIODICALS

Chicago Tribune, September 21, 1985.

Detroit Free Press, September 20, 1985.

Listener, September 26, 1985, p. 9.

Los Angeles Times, September 21, 1985, part IV, p. 7.

Newsweek, September 30, 1985.

New York Times, September 20, 1985, p. A20.

Observer (London, England), September 22, 1985, p. 25.

Times (London, England), September 20, 1985.

Washington Post, September 20, 1985.*

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