Synopses & Reviews
Never before published in English, these essayistic writings enlarge our understanding of one of the twentieth century's most beloved authors.
In evocations of Italo Calvino's tumultuous teenage years his life during Mussolini's rule, at the time of the liberation, and during the Cold War we learn the story of the author's generation as it confronted moral, civil, and artistic dilemmas. In a group of essays from the extended periods during which Calvino lived alone in Paris and New York, we witness his struggle to find "the right distance between being involved and being detached." In "American Diary" he recounts his peregrinations throughout the United States in 1959 and 1960: from New York to Texas, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Savannah, and Charleston. He describes his bafflement with heretofore unimaginable technology, his fascination with the Beats, his horror at the squalor of the suburbs, the inspiration he derived from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words and actions, his impressions of myriad aspects of American culture.
Rich in the author's hallmark insight, intelligence, and brio, The Hermit in Paris will take its place alongside Italo Calvino's seminal works.
"[A] welcome addition to [Calvino's] extensive works....[I]t is Calvino's lifelong fascination with America that makes this collection remarkable..." Publishers Weekly
"[V]ivid and thoughtful musings....Urbane and observant in even the most casual of pieces....An author interview rounds out this gathering of self-portraits and travelogues, which comprises a delectable addition to a great writer's shelf." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"This is perhaps the central accomplishment of Hermit in Paris the eagerness it roused in me, and will no doubt in others, to return to Il Maestro's earlier books and to read them in a different, deeper context." Michael Mewshaw, The Los Angeles Times
"There are some excellent things to choose; in some of the pieces there is also the hobble that interviews and other forms of solicited response clamp upon the gait of an imaginative artist....The most interesting biographical material recounts Calvino's years as a member of the Italian Communist Party....The title piece is the finest in the collection." Richard Eder, The New York Times Book Review
"Here is a Calvino very much like, well, the narrators of his novels: a semi-detached intellect given to speculation on the nature of cities, places, travel....His engagement with public life is such, finally, that one doesn't begrudge him a certain reticence about himself." Paul LaFarge, The Village Voice
"Calvino possesses the power of seeing into the deepest recesses of human minds and then bringing their dreams to life." Salman Rushdie
"Like Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Italo Calvino dreams perfect dreams for us....Of the three, Calvino is the sunniest, the most variously and benignly curious about the human truth." John Updike
About the Author
Italo Calvino's works include Numbers in the Dark, The Road to San Giovanni, Six Memos for the Next Millennium, The Baron in the Trees, If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, Invisible Cities, Marcovaldo, and Mr. Palomar. He died in 1985.