Cosimo di Rondó, a young Italian nobleman of the eighteenth century, rebels against his parents by climbing into the trees and remaining there for the rest of his life. He adapts efficiently to an existence in the forest canopy—he hunts, sows crops, plays games with earth-bound friends, fights forest fires, solves engineering problems, and even manages to have love affairs. From his perch in the trees, Cosimo sees the Age of Enlightenment pass by and a new century dawn.
The Baron in the Trees exemplifies Calvino’s peerless ability to weave tales that sparkle with enchantment. This new English rendering by acclaimed translator Ann Goldstein breathes new life into one of Calvino’s most beloved works.
Throughout his stories, Calvino delights in discovering hidden truths beneath the surface of everyday life. Blending reality and illusion with elegance and precision, the tales in this collection take place in a World War II–era and postwar Italy tinged with visionary and fablelike qualities. Three novice burglars accidentally break into a pastry shop; a pair of children trespass upon a forbidden garden; a wealthy family invites a rustic goatherd to lunch, only to mock him. In the title story, a compact masterpiece of shifting perspectives, a panicked soldier tries to keep his wits—and his life—when he faces off against a young partisan with a loaded rifle and miraculous aim.
Stories from Last Comes the Raven have been published in translation, but the collection as a whole has never appeared in English. This volume, including several stories newly translated by Ann Goldstein, is an important addition to Calvino’s legacy.
In a garden sit the aged Kublai Khan and the young Marco Polo — Mongol emperor and Venetian traveler. Kublai Khan has sensed the end of his empire coming soon. Marco Polo diverts his host with stories of the cities he has seen in his travels around the empire: cities and memory, cities and desire, cities and designs, cities and the dead, cities and the sky, trading cities, hidden cities. As Marco Polo unspools his tales, the emperor detects these fantastic places are more than they appear.
“Invisible Cities changed the way we read and what is possible in the balance between poetry and prose . . . The book I would choose as pillow and plate, alone on a desert island.” — Jeanette Winterson
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler turns out to be not one novel but ten, each with a different plot, style, ambience, and author, and each interrupted at a moment of suspense. Together they form a labyrinth of literatures, known and unknown, alive and extinct, through which two readers, a male and a female, pursue both the story lines that intrigue them and one another.
In Difficult Loves, Italy’s master storyteller weaves tales in which cherished deceptions and illusions of love—including self-love—are swept away in magical instants of recognition. A soldier is reduced to quivering fear by the presence of a full-figured woman in his train compartment; a young clerk leaves a lady’s bed at dawn; a young woman is isolated from bathers on a beach by the loss of her bikini bottom. Each of them discovers hidden truths beneath the surface of everyday life.
This is the first edition in English to present the collection as Calvino originally envisioned it, and includes two stories newly translated by Ann Goldstein.
Set in the time of Charlemagne and narrated by a nun with her own secrets to keep, The Nonexistent Knight tells the story of Agilulf, a gleaming white suit of armor with nothing inside it. A challenge to his honor sends Agilulf on a search through France, England, and North Africa to confirm the chastity of a virgin he saved from rape years earlier. In the end, after many surprising turns of plot, a closing confession draws this sparkling novella to a perfect finish.
Italo Calvino’s beloved cosmicomics cross planets and traverse galaxies, speed up time or slow it down to the particles of an instant. Through the eyes of an ageless guide named Qfwfq, Calvino explores natural phenomena and tells the story of the origins of the universe. Poignant, fantastical, and wise, these thirty-four dazzling stories — collected here in one definitive anthology — relate complex scientific and mathematical concepts to our everyday world. They are an indelible (and unfailingly delightful) literary achievement.
“Nimble and often hilarious . . . Trying to describe such a diverse and entertaining mix, I have to admit, just as Calvino does so often, that my words fail here, too. There’s no way I — or anyone, really — can muster enough of them to quite capture the magic of these stories . . . Read this book, please.” — Colin Dwyer, NPR
In The New York Times Book Review, the poet Seamus Heaney praised Mr. Palomar as a series of “beautiful, nimble, solitary feats of imagination.” Throughout these twenty-seven intricately structured chapters, the musings of the crusty Mr. Palomar consistently render the world sublime and ridiculous.
Like the telescope for which he is named, Mr. Palomar is a natural observer. “It is only after you have come to know the surface of things,” he believes, “that you can venture to seek what is underneath.” Whether contemplating a fine cheese, a hungry gecko, or a topless sunbather, he tends to let his meditations stray from the present moment to the great beyond. And though he may fail as an objective spectator, he is the best of company.
“Each brief chapter reads like an exploded haiku,” wrote Time Out. A play on a world fragmented by our individual perceptions, this inventive and irresistible novel encapsulates the life’s work of an artist of the highest order, “the greatest Italian writer of the twentieth century” (The Guardian).