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 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.
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.
“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.
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
Vampires, ghosts, and other horrors abound in this collection of nineteenth-century fantastic literature, selected and edited by Italo Calvino, a twentieth-century master of the speculative. This posthumously published anthology of enchanting, uncanny, terrifying, and immortally entertaining short stories includes E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Sandman,” Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose,” Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Bottle Imp,” and many more, each with an introduction by Calvino. Fantastic Tales is a delight for the mind and a feast for the senses.
“Impressive and utterly pleasing . . . Each story [Calvino] picks is absorbing, unique, and continually surprising.” — Los Angeles Times
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
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.
Written between 1943 and 1984, the stories in Numbers in the Dark span the career of one of fiction’s modern masters: from Italo Calvino’s earliest fables, to tales informed by life in World War II–era Italy, to the delightful experimentation that would define his later work. Here are speculative stories on life in the digital age, genre-bending wonders, and “impossible interviews” with the likes of Montezuma and a Neanderthal. Deftly translated by Tim Parks, Numbers in the Dark shows off Calvino’s lifelong gift for subtle humor and shimmering philosophical insight.
“Numbers in the Dark is a glorious grab-bag . . . [with] enough gems from every phase in Calvino’s career to make it feel indispensable.” — Seattle Times