Pencil sketch

By Calvino

NEW: "The Daughters of the Moon" in the Feb. 29, 2009, The New Yorker

& "Two Cosmicomics" in May 2009 Harpers Magazine (Subscribers only)

Calvino on Che--"The Words that Failed"
October 9, 2007, 40 years to the day after Che's death.

American Diary, 1959-1960 (Excerpt from The Hermit in Paris)
Online at the Paris Review. Translated by Martin McLaughlin.

Several of the following readings come from the NY Times website. As the NYT links do move, I recommend going to the website and searching if the below links are not active. "A tribute to Italo Calvino, featuring comments by Umberto Eco, Carlos Fuentes and Salman Rushdie, and readings by Maria Tucci, Katherine Borowitz, Wallace Shawn and John Hilner. The event was organized by Giovanna Calvino and held on Oct. 22, 1999 at The Cooper Union in New York."

"Readers, Writers and Literary Machines"
By Italo Calvino, Sept. 7, 1986. NY Times. "This essay was adapted from a lecture by Italo Calvino delivered in Italy in 1967." (You must register at the website before viewing the essay.)

  • "Your first book already defines you, while you are really far from being defined. And this definition is something you may then carry with you for the rest of your life, trying to confirm it or extend or correct or deny it; but you can never eliminate it."  (Calvino, preface to The Path to the Nest of Spiders)

  • In an age when other fantastically speedy, widespread media are triumphing and running the risk of flattening all communication onto a single, homogeneous surface, the function of literature is communication between things that are different simply because they are different, not blunting but even sharpening the differences between them, following the true bent of the written language.  (Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium)
On Calvino
  • Throughout his career Calvino, like Mr. Palomar, the protagonist of his last novel, tried to defy with his technical virtuosity and fantastic characters the malaise of daily life in a dehumanizing, modern world controlled by science. He was a seeker of knowledge, and like Ariosto a visionary in a sublime and absurd world. His quest was to grasp the entire universe, to gain a cosmic sense of harmony and inner tranquility for himself and for his readers (Beno Weiss, Understanding Italo Calvino).

  • Calvino thus remains an abstract entity, never reaching artistic maturity. Like a mollusk infinitely putting off the task of secreting its own limestone shell by constructing a porous one, full of holes, transparent and immaterial, Calvino has succeeded in remaining eternally young , in arresting the growing process and therebye blocking indefinitely, his talent in the natura naturans stage, refusing to become natura naturata, never closing himself in a constricting formula (Renato Barilli, My 'Long Infidelity' Towards Calvino, in Revisiting Calvino).

  • If Calvino's highest merit was his sense of wonder and his urge to transform and defeat obscurantism with all the joy he could muster, at the same time it is important to recall that his work expressed, often painfully, the limits of human rationalism (Franco Ricci, Difficult Games).

  • "[Calvino] did not have the popularity or the notoriety of Alberto Moravia or Gunter Grass; his writing will probably never be made into movies. Calvino was, rather, something of a writer's writer, a close student of literary possibilities and an assiduous experimenter (Albert Howard Carter, Italo Calvino: Metamorphoses of Fantasy).


    -Updated June 15, 2009; Outside the Town of Malbork was first programmed in Jan. 1999.