Italo Calvino (1923-1985), one of Europe's greatest and most popular writers, was born in Cuba and grew up in San Remo, Italy. He was a member of the partisan movement during the German occupation of northern Italy in World War II. The novel that resulted from that experience, published in English as The Path to the Nest of Spiders (1947 Italy/1957 USA), won popular and critical acclaim. Other works include
The Nonexistent Knight & the Cloven Viscount (1951, 1959/1962),
Difficult Loves (a book of short stories - 1949, 1958/1984),
The Watcher and other stories (1952,1958,1963/1971),
The Baron in the Trees (1957/1959),
t zero (1967/1969),
The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1969/1976),
Invisible Cities (1972/1974),
If on a winter's night a traveler (1979/1981),
Mr. Palomar (1983/1985), and
Under the Jaguar Sun (three short stories - 1976, 1983, 1986/1988). The Uses of Literature (1980, 1982/1986; The Literature Machine in the UK) consists of essays about the craft of literature.
The Road to San Giovanni, a collection of five beautiful essays (1990/1993), and Numbers in the Dark, a book of short stories (1993/1995), were posthumously published. Calvino also edited a volume of Italian Folktales (1956/1962) and Fantastical Tales (1996/1997).|
I find myself ceaselessly rereading Mr. Palomar, from which several of the wonderful essays above are taken, as well as Invisible Cities and The Uses of Literature. If you are a student of the human condition, if you can be transfixed by a wave, or by the moon in the afternoon, by a giraffe or an albino gorilla, if you fail to bite your tongue as often as you should, if you enjoy a naked bosom now and then, if sometimes you lose your patience with the young, or simply if you dabble in contemplation, however irregularly, Palomar's observations will delight, amuse, and inform you. If you are a student, they will teach you. If you are a teacher or researcher, they will cause you to rethink what and how you teach and conduct research.
Six Memos for the Next Millennium is a collection of five Charles Eliot Norton lectures that Calvino was to deliver at Harvard University at the time of his death. He devotes one lecture, or memo, to five indispensable qualities that should be cherished in literature -- lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, and multiplicity. The sixth lecture - consistency - was never completed. Of course, the memos are pertinent to all artistic endeavors. I treasure them because they also inform the art and practice of "scientific" research.
The Hermit in Paris, a book of autobiographical essays and interviews, was published in 2003.