In these widely praised essays, Calvino reflects on literature as process, the great narrative game in the course of which writer and reader are challenged to understand the world. Calvino himself made the selection of pieces to be included in this volume. Translated by Patrick Creagh. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
Italian novelist and short story writer Calvino has been accused of making protons, quarks and living cells talk as if they were people, but here he defends his approach as a kind of animism attuned to the way the universe works. His fascination with myth is evident in pieces on Ovid's Metamorphoses and the separate odysseys that make up Homer's Odyssey. Three intertwined essays on French utopian socialist Fourier present him as a precursor of Women's Lib, a satirist and visionary thinker whose scheme for a society in which each person's desires could be satisfied deserves to be taken seriously. In other pieces, Calvino brings a fresh, unpredictable approach to why we should reread the classics, how cinema and comic strips influence writers, and the cartoon universe of Saul Steinberg. His message is that writers need to establish erotic communion with the humdrum objects of everyday reality. First serial to New York Times Book Review and New York Review of Books.