Synopses & Reviews
“All that can be done is for each one of us to invent our own ideal library of our classics.” —from Why Read the Classics?
Classics, according to Italo Calvino, are not only works of enduring cultural value, but also something much more personal: talismans, touchstones, books through which we understand our world and ourselves. In Why Read the Classics?, Calvino shares over thirty of his classics in essays of warmth, humor, and striking insight. He ranges from Homer to Jorge Luis Borges, from the Persian folklorist Nezami to Charles Dickens. Whether tracing the links between Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s objectivity, discovering the origins of science fiction in the writings of Cyrano de Bergerac, or convincing us that the Italian novelist Carlo Emilio Gadda’s works are like artichokes, Calvino offers a new perspective on beloved favorites and introduces us to hidden gems.
“This book serves as a welcome reminder that the great works are great because they can mean so much to readers, and Calvino is a most knowledgeable guide to all the best destinations.” —San Francisco Chronicle
PRAISE FOR UMBERTO ECO
"One of the most influential thinkers of our time."--Los Angeles Times
"Eco combines scholarship with a love of paradox and a quirky, sometimes outrageous, sense of humor."--The Atlantic Monthly
"Delightful and erudite essays...The book offers a delectable array of cognitive insights, ancient history, and Calvinos indispensable voice." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
In this collection of essays and addresses delivered over the course of his illustrious career, Umberto Eco seeks "to understand the chemistry of [his] passion" for the word. From musings on Ptolemy and "the force of the false" to reflections on the experimental writing of Borges and Joyce, Eco's luminous intelligence and encyclopedic knowledge are on dazzling display throughout. And when he reveals his own ambitions and superstitions, his authorial anxieties and fears, one feels like a secret sharer in the garden of literature to which he so often alludes.
Remarkably accessible and unfailingly stimulating, this collection exhibits the diversity of interests and the depth of knowledge that have made Eco one of the world's leading writers.
A posthumously published collection of thirty-six essays offering Italo Calvino's invigorating and illuminating analysis of his most treasured literary classics.
A collection of essays offering an extraordinary global view of Calvino's approach to writing, reading, and interpreting literature.
“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.
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.
“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.
The last of Italo Calvino's works to appear during the author's lifetime, Collection of Sand is a group of essays never before published in English, discussing subjects ranging from cuneiform and antique maps to Mexican temples and Japanese gardens.
“Just like every collection, this one is a diary as well: a diary of travels, of course, but also of feelings, states of mind, moods . . . The fascination of a collection lies just as much in what it reveals as in what it conceals of the secret urge that led to its creation.” — from Collection of Sand
Italo Calvino’s unbounded curiosity and masterly imagination are displayed in peak form in Collection of Sand, the last of his works published during his lifetime. Here he applies his graceful intellect to the delights of the visual world, in essays on subjects ranging from cuneiform and antique maps to Mexican temples and Japanese gardens. Never before translated into English, Collection of Sand is an incisive and often surprising meditation on observation and knowledge, the difference between the world as we perceive it and the world as it is.
“Beautifully translated by Martin McLaughlin . . . To read [Collection of Sand] is to enter the presence of an exceptionally fervent and fertile mind . . . A brilliant collection that may change the way you see the world around you.” — PD Smith, Guardian
About the Author
UMBERTO ECO was born in Alessandria, Italy in 1932. He is the author of five novels and numerous collections of essays. A semiotician, philosopher, medievalist, and for many years a professor at the University of Bologna, Eco is now president of the Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici there. He has received Italy's highest literary award, the Premio Strega, has been named a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by the French government, and is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Milan.
Table of Contents
On Some Functions of Literature
A Reading of the Paradiso
On the Style of The Communist Manifesto
The Mists of the Valois
Wilde: Paradox and Aphorism
A Portrait of the Artist as Bachelor
Between La Mancha and Babel
Borges and My Anxiety of Influence
On Camporesi: Blood, Body, Life
Les Sémaphores sous la Pluie
The Flaws in the Form
Intertextual Irony and Levels of Reading
The Poetics and Us
The American Myth in Three Anti-American Generations
The Power of Falsehood
How I Write