Books

Six Memos for the Next Millennium

Italo Calvino (and others)

'Words connect the visible track to the invisible thing ... like a fragile makeshift bridge cast across the void'

With imagination and wit, Italo Calvino sought to define the virtues of the great literature of the past in order to shape the values of the future. His effervescent last works, left unfinished at his death, were the Charles Eliot Norton lectures, which he was due to deliver at Harvard in 1985-86. These surviving drafts explore the literary concepts closest to his heart: Lightness, Quickness, Multiplicity, Exactitude and Visibility (Constancy was to be the sixth), in serious yet playful essays that reveal his debt to the comic strip and the folktale. This collection, now in a fluent and supple new translation, is a brilliant précis of a great writer whose legacy will endure through the millennium he addressed.

Translated by Geoffrey Brock

'The book I give most to people is Six Memos for the Next Millennium' Ali Smith

'Wonderful . . . full of wit and erudition' Daily Telegraph

Letters 1941-1985

Italo Calvino

The extraordinary letters of Italo Calvino, one of the great writers of the twentieth century, translated into English for the first time by Martin McLaughlin, with an introduction by Michael Wood.

Italo Calvino, novelist, literary critic and editor, was also a masterful letter writer whose correspondents included Umberto Eco, Primo Levi, Gore Vidal and Pier Paolo Pasolini. This collection of his extraordinary letters, the first in English, gives an illuminating insight into his work and life. They include correspondence with fellow authors, generous encouragement to young writers, responses to critics, thoughts on literary criticism and literature in general, as well as giving glimpses of Calvino's role in the antifascist Resistance, his disenchantment with Communism and his travels to America and Cuba. Together they reveal the searching intellect, clarity and passionate commitment of a great writer at work.

'This literally marvelous collection of letters shows him to have been gregarious, puckish, funny, combative, and, above all, wonderful company, and opens a new and fascinating perspective on one of the master writers of the twentieth century. Michael Wood and Martin McLaughlin have done Calvino, and us, a great and loving service.' John Banville

'A charming addition to the Planet Calvino - a place cluttered with sphinxes, chimeras, knights, spaceships and viscounts both cloven and whole' Guardian

Italo Calvino, one of Italy's finest postwar writers, was born in Cuba in 1923 and grew up in San Remo, Italy. Best known for his experimental masterpieces, Invisible Cities and If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, he was also a brilliant exponent of allegorical fantasy in works such as The Complete Cosmicomics. He died in Siena in 1985.

Collection of Sand

Italo Calvino

Italo Calvino in Collection of Sand claimed that 'the brain begins in the eye'. The essays collected here display his fascination with the visual universe, in which the things we see tell a truth about the world. With encyclopedic knowledge and engaging curiosity, Calvino writes about such diverse subjects as the imaginative pleasures of maps, bizarre exhibitions and the earliest forms of written language. Books and paintings provoke discussions of artistic motivation, while descriptions of a meticulous Japanese garden, Trajan's column crumbling to dust or a Mexican temple smothered by the jungle lead to contemplations on space, time and civilization.

Surprising and profound, Collection of Sand provides a glimpse into the mind of a master of the magination.

Italo Calvino, one of Italy's finest postwar writers, has delighted readers around the world with his deceptively simple, fable-like stories. Calvino was born in Cuba in 1923 and raised in San Remo, Italy; he fought for the Italian Resistance from 1943-45. He died in Siena in 1985, of a brain hemorrhage.

Martin L. McLaughlin is Professor of Italian and Fiat-Serena Professor of Italian Studies at the University of Oxford where he is a Fellow of Magdalen College. He is the English translator of Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino among many others.

Six Memos for the Next Millennium

Italo Calvino (and others)

Italo Calvino was due to deliver the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard in 1985-86, but they were left unfinished at his death. The surviving drafts explore of the concepts of Lightness, Quickness, Multiplicity, Exactitude and Visibility (Constancy was to be the sixth) in serious yet playful essays that reveal Calvino's debt to the comic strip and the folktale. With his customary imagination and grace, he sought to define the virtues of the great literature of the past in order to shape the values of the future. This collection is a brilliant précis of the work of a great writer whose legacy will endure through the millennium he addressed.

Italo Calvino, one of Italy's finest postwar writers, has delighted readers around the world with his deceptively simple, fable-like stories. Calvino was born in Cuba in 1923 and raised in San Remo, Italy; he fought for the Italian Resistance from 1943-45. His major works include Cosmicomics (1968), Invisible Cities (1972), and If on a winter's night a traveler (1979). He died in Siena in1985, of a brain hemorrhage.

Into the War

Italo Calvino (and others)

Set in Italy in the summer of 1940, this trio of stories explores the relationships between the different generations caught up in the war as well as Calvino's own experiences as a teenager. In the title story, 'Into the War', we are given an insight into what life was really like for those too young to be conscripted into Mussolini's army, while in 'The Avanguardisti in Menton', Calvino and his friends take a revealingly anti-climactic trip to the garrisoned French town of Menton, the sole Italian conquest of the early months of the conflict. The final story, 'UNPA Nights', is a touching, comic tale of friendship in a blackout, where the narrator's imagination wanders as he roams through the seedier parts of the darkened town instead of guarding the school buildings.

Into the War is Calvino at his autobiographical best, combining brilliantly recollected memory with compelling wit and perfect prose.

The Queen's Necklace

Italo Calvino

'The inspector ordered that the bird be searched.One of the agents stalled saying it made him feel sick, and after some fierce pecking another withdrew sucking a bleeding finger.'

In these two stories from an inventive, comic master of the form, old friends and friendly rivals Pietro and Tommasso discover a treasure lost by the side of the road, and become suspected of a using a blameless chicken for devious ends. Italo Calvino's writing explores the fringes of these small, unusual scenes and finds incalculable wisdom and humour there.

This book contains The Queen's Necklace and The Workshop Hen.

Hermit in Paris

Italo Calvino (and others)

Italo Calvino once said that he preferred to give false details about his biography since he felt that even the genuine data of a writer's life shed no light on the creative work. But this volume of posthumously collected personal writings is the closest we will ever come to the autobiography of this most private of writers. The pieces collected here range from the early 1950s to his last interview, completed just before his sudden death in 1985. Apart from providing a glimpse into his own formative experiences and evolution as an author, Calvino's autobiographical writings also examine the major events of twentieth-century history from a very personal viewpoint. This volume is full of ideas on literature and other writers, all conveyed with the author's distinctive lightness and intelligence.

Italo Calvino, one of Italy's finest postwar writers, has delighted readers around the world with his deceptively simple, fable-like stories. Calvino was born in Cuba in 1923 and raised in San Remo, Italy; he fought for the Italian Resistance from 1943-45. His major works include Cosmicomics (1968), Invisible Cities (1972), and If on a winter's night a traveler (1979). He died in Sienna in 1985.

The Complete Cosmicomics

Italo Calvino (and others)

Italo Calvino's enchanting stories about the evolution of the universe, with characters that are fashioned from mathematical formulae and cellular structures, The Complete Cosmicomics is translated by Martin McLaughlin, Tim Parks and William Weaver in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Naturally, we were all there, - dld Qfwfq said, - where else could we have been? Nobody knew then that there could be space. Or time either: what use did we have for time, packed in there like sardines?'

The Cosmicomics tell the story of the history of the universe, from the big bang, through millennia and across galaxies. It is witnessed through the eyes of 'cosmic know-it-all' Qfwfq, an exuberant, chameleon-like figure, who takes the shape of a dinosaur, a mollusc, a steamer captain and a moon milk gatherer, among others. This is the first complete edition in English of Italo Calvino's funny, whimsical and delightful stories, which blend scientific fact, flights of fancy, parody and wordplay to show the strangeness and the wonders of the world.

Italo Calvino (1923-1985), one of Italy's finest postwar writers, has delighted readers around the world with his deceptively simple, fable-like stories. Calvino was born in Cuba and raised in San Remo, Italy; he fought for the Italian Resistance from 1943-45. Among his other works published in Penguin Modern Classics are Italian Folktales, Hermit in Paris, Into the War, The Path to the Spiders' Nests, Numbers in the Dark, Six Memos for the Next Millennium and Why Read the Classics?

If you liked The Complete Cosmicomics, you might enjoy Jorge Luis Borges' Fictions, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'The complete and definitive collection ... a masterpiece'
Gilbert Adair, Evening Standard

'Dazzling ... a book of revelation'
Tim Adams, Observer

'If you have never read Cosmicomics, you have before you the most joyful reading experience of your life'
Salman Rushdie

'A landmark in fiction, the work of a master'
Ursula K Le Guin, Guardian

Why Read the Classics?

Italo Calvino (and others)

Why Read the Classics? is an elegant defence of the value of great literature by one of the finest authors of the last century. Beginning with an essay on the attributes that define a classic (number one - classics are those books that people always say they are 'rereading', not 'reading'), this is an absorbing collection of Italo Calvino's witty and passionate criticism.

The Road to San Giovanni

Italo Calvino (and others)

In five elegant autobiographical meditations Calvino delves into his past, remembering awkward childhood walks with his father, a lifelong obsession with the cinema and fighting in the Italian Resistance against the Fascists. He also muses on the social contracts, language and sensations associated with emptying the kitchen rubbish and the shape he would, if asked, consider the world. These reflections on the nature of memory itself are engaging, witty, and lit through with Calvino's alchemical brilliance.

Under the Jaguar Sun

Italo Calvino (and others)

A couple on an epicurean journey across Mexico are excited by the idea of a particular ingredient, suggested by ancient rituals of human sacrifice. Precariously balanced on his throne, a king is able only to listen to the sounds around him - sure that any deviation from their normal progression would mean the uprising of the conspirators that surround him. And three different men search desperately for the beguiling scents of lost women, from a Count visiting Madame Odile's perfumery, to a London drummer stepping over spent, naked bodies.

The Path to the Spiders' Nests

Italo Calvino (and others)

Pin is a bawdy, adolescent cobbler's assistant, both arrogant and insecure who - while the Second World War rages - sings songs and tells jokes to endear himself to the grown-ups of his town - particularly jokes about his sister, who they all know as the town's 'mattress'. Among those his sister sleeps with is a German sailor, and Pin dares to steal his pistol, hiding it among the spiders' nests in an act of rebellion that entangles him in the adults' war.

Italo Calvino, one of Italy's finest postwar writers, has delighted readers around the world with his deceptively simple, fable-like stories. He was born in Cuba in 1923 and raised in San Remo, Italy; he fought for the Italian Resistance from 1943-45. His major works include Cosmicomics (1968), Invisible Cities (1972), and If on a winter's night a traveler (1979). He died in Siena in 1985.

Martin L. McLaughlin is Professor of Italian and Fiat-Serena Professor of Italian Studies at the University of Oxford where he is a Fellow of Magdalen College. In addition to his published academic works he is the English translator of Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino among many others.

Numbers in the Dark

Italo Calvino (and others)

Numbers in the Dark is a collection of short stories covering the length of Italo Calvino's extraordinary writing career, from when he was a teenager to shortly before his death. They include witty allegories and wise fables; a town where everything has been forbidden apart from the game of tip-cat; a pitiable tribe watching the flight paths of guided missiles from outside their mud huts; a computer programmer considering the possible sequence of a series of brutal acts; and dialogues with Henry Ford, a Neanderthal and the gloomy, overthrown Montezuma ...

Fantastic Tales

Italo Calvino (and others)

From fabulous enchantments and supernatural horrors to subtler, more psychological terrors, the best of nineteenth-century fantastic literature is collected here by Italo Calvino. These mysterious and macabre tales include Hoffmann's nightmarish 'The Sandman', Poe's terrifying 'The Tell-Tale Heart' and Dickens's chilling ghost story 'The Signal-Man', and relatively unknown works from celebrated writers including Honoré de Balzac, Henry James, Sir Walter Scott, Guy de Maupassant and Robert Louis Stevenson, alongside lesser-known contributors. Each story comes with a fascinating introduction by Calvino.

Marcovaldo

Italo Calvino

Marcovaldo is an enchanting collection of twenty stories that are both melancholy and funny, farce and fantasy. Calvino charts the struggles of an Italian peasant to reconcile country habits with urban life, combining comical disasters with a surrealistic view of city life through the eyes of an outsider. As always with Calvino, nothing is quite as it seems.

Italian Folktales

Italo Calvino (and others)

Meticulously selected and artfully recreated, the selection of stories in Italian is vast and ranges geographically from Corsica and Sicily to Venice and the Alps. Calvino is himself clearly captivated by the folkloric imagination and communicates this in what is a fascinating and rich addition to folk literature.

The Literature Machine

Italo Calvino

'This brilliant collection of essays should be a feast for his admirers, as well as for those who approach his dazzling oeuvre for the first time-Calvino is not only constantly and supremely intelligent; he is constantly and supremely faithful to his narrative imagination' Guardian

The Castle Of Crossed Destinies

Italo Calvino

A group of travellers chance to meet, first in a castle, then a tavern. Their powers of speech are magically taken from them and instead they have only tarot cards with which to tell their stories. What follows is an exquisite interlinking of narratives, and a fantastic, surreal and chaotic history of all human consciousness.

Invisible Cities

Italo Calvino (and others)

In Invisible Cities Marco Polo conjures up cities of magical times for his host, the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan, but gradually it becomes clear that he is actually describing one city: Venice. As Gore Vidal wrote 'Of all tasks, describing the contents of a book is the most difficult and in the case of a marvellous invention like Invisible Cities, perfectly irrelevant.'

Mr Palomar

Italo Calvino

Mr Palomar is a delightful eccentric whose chief activity is looking at things. He is seeking knowledge; 'it is only after you have come to know the surface of things that you can venture to seek what is underneath'. Whether contemplating a fine cheese, a hungry gecko, a woman sunbathing topless or a flight of migrant starlings, Mr Palomar's observations render the world afresh.

Biography

Italo Calvino was born in Cuba in 1923 and grew up in Italy. He was an essayist and journalist and a member of the editorial staff of Einaudi in Turin. One of the most respected writers of our time, his best-known works of fiction include Invisible Cities, If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, Marcovaldo and Mr Palomar. In 1973 he won the prestigious Premio Feltrinelli. He died in 1985. A collection of Calvino's posthumous personal writings, The Hermit in Paris, was published in 2003.