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Six Memos for the next Millenniumby Italo Calvino
Synopses & Reviews
“One of the most rigorously presented and beautifully illustrated critical testaments in all of literature.”—Boston Globe
“A brilliant, original approach to literature, a key to Calvino’s own work and a thoroughly delightful and illuminating commentary on some of the world’s greatest writing.”—San Francisco Chronicle
At the time of his death, Italo Calvino was at work on six lectures setting forth the qualities in writing he most valued, and which he believed would define literature in the century to come. Here, in Six Memos for the Next Millennium, are the five lectures he completed, forming not only a stirring defense of literature, but also an indispensable guide to the writings of Calvino himself. He devotes one “memo” each to the concepts of lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, and multiplicity, drawing examples from his vast knowledge of myth, folklore, and works both ancient and modern. Readers will be astonished by the prescience of these lectures, which have only gained in relevance as Calvino’s “next millennium” has dawned.
A collection of essays offering an extraordinary global view of Calvino's approach to writing, reading, and interpreting literature.
A collection of five lectures Italo Calvino was preparing to deliver at the time of his death, setting forth the qualities in writing he most valued, and which he believed would define literature in the century to come. Together, these "memos" form a stirring defense of literature and an indispensable guide to Calvino's own work.
“Reading Calvino, you’re constantly assailed by the notion that he is writing down what you have always known, except that you’ve never thought of it before. This is highly unnerving: fortunately, you’re usually too busy laughing to go mad.” — Salman Rushdie, London Review of Books
Reading, writing, translating; the avant-garde and tradition; the fate of the novel: these are some of the themes of The Written World and the Unwritten World. A collection of essays, forewords, articles, interviews, notes, and other occasional pieces, this work displays Calvino’s remarkable intelligence and razor-sharp wit as he explores the meaning of literature in a rapidly changing world. Drawn from Mondo scritto e mondo non scritto (2002), Sulla fiaba (1988), and uncollected essays, this volume of previously untranslated work — now rendered in English by Ann Goldstein — is a major statement in literary criticism.
Six Memos for the Millennium is a collection of five lectures Italo Calvino was about to deliver at the time of his death. Here is his legacy to us: the universal values he pinpoints become the watchwords for our appreciation of Calvino himself.
What should be cherished in literature? Calvino devotes one lecture, or memo to the reader, to each of five indispensable qualities: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, and multiplicity. A sixth lecture, on consistency, was never committed to paper, and we are left only to ponder the possibilities. With this book, he gives us the most eloquent defense of literature written in the twentieth century—a fitting gift for the next millennium.
About the Author
Italo Calvino (1923-1985) 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, won widespread acclaim. His other works of fiction include the Baron in the Trees, The Castle of Crossed Destinies, Cosmicomics, Difficult Loves, If on a Winter's Night a Travelor, Invisible Cities, Marcovaldo, Mr. Palomar, The Nonexistent Knight & The Cloven Viscount, t zero, Under the Jaguar Sun, and The Watcher and Other Stories. His works of nonfiction include Six Memos for the Next Millennium and The Uses of Literature, collections of literary essays, and the anthology Italian Folktales.
Table of Contents
Lightness — Quickness — Exactitude — Visibility — Multiplicity.
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