Biography of Italo Calvino

The paths of a writer October 15, 1923
September 19, 1985

Who is Italo Calvino?


Italo Calvino was born on October 15, 1923 in Santiago de Las Vegas, at Havana, Cuba. His father, Mario, is an agronomist by origin of Sanremo, located in Cuba to head an agriculture experiment station and an agricultural school after twenty years in Mexico. The mother, Evelina Mameli, in Sassari graduated in natural sciences and worked as an Assistant in botany at the University of Pavia.

In 1927, Calvin attended the kindergarten St. George College, also in Cuba. In the same year his brother Florian, future internationally renowned geologist, and in 1929 he attended the Waldensian schools, once the family moved permanently to Italy (Calvino also does in time at the end of primary school, to become Balilla). In 1934 passes the exam to the Gymnasium-Lyceum "g. d. Cassini" and completes the first part of his schooling.

The first contact with literature takes place at the age of twelve, when he happens between the first and second hands "Jungle Book" by Kipling. It is a love at first sight, a meteoric infatuation with the exotic worlds, adventures and feels great that can give the solitary reading texts enthralling. He enjoys even humorous reading magazines, which causes him to draw cartoons and comics himself. In those years fell in love with the cinema, a love that will last throughout his adolescence.

Meanwhile, war breaks out, an event that marks the end of his youth, as well as the decline of the "belle epoque" of Sanremo. His ideological position is uncertain, including the recovery of a local identity and a confused anarchism. Between sixteen and twenty years writing short stories, plays and poems inspired by her favorite poet Eugenio Montale for life.

It is in personal relationships and friendship with schoolmate Eugenio Scalfari, instead, that we begin to grow in him specifically and political interests. Through an intense epistolary relationship with Scalfari follows the awakening of the antifascism stowaway and a sort of orientation compared to books to read: Huizinga, Montale, Vittorini, Pisacane and so on.

In 1941, obtained the baccalaureate, he enrolled in the Faculty of agriculture, University of Turin. After the death of a young fighter, ask a friend to introduce him to Pci; later, together with his brother enlisted and fought for 20 months one of the most bitter clashes between partisans and fascists. It is the view of most accepted criticism that his choice to join the Communist Party was personal ideologies, but from the fact that at the time was the most active and organized.

Meanwhile, parents are seized by the Germans. After the war and liberated parents, in 1946 starts to gravitate around the Einaudi Publishing House, selling books in installments. On exhortation of Cesare Pavese and the critic Russ Ferrata, he devoted himself to writing a novel that ends in the final days of December; is her first book, "Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno," a survey of world war and partisan.

Increasingly placed in the publishing house, at Einaudi, Italo Calvino she directs the press office and advertising by tightening bonds of friendship and fervent intellectual confrontation with the big names of the era, present and future, as Pavese, Vittorini, Natalia Ginzburg, Delio Cantimori, Franco Venturi, Norberto Bobbio and Felice Balbo.

In 1948, however, leaves momentarily Einaudi to work as editor of the third page, with the unit. He also collaborated with the weekly Communist "Revival"; in 1949 back by Einaudi and leaves the collection "Last comes the Raven," but remains unpublished novel "the white Ship" on which van Leeuwen had expressed a negative opinion.

From 1 January 1950 Calvino is hired by Einaudi as editor stable: she directs the press office and directs the literary part of the new series "Small scientific-literary Library". Would have been just Vittorini, Bunting and Calvin, inter alia, to create those cover aspects that have become a style in Italian publishing.

In 1951 ends realistic-social system to write a novel, "young people of the Po", which is published in the journal "workshop" only in 1957/1958; in summer, writes straight off "the vicomte halved". For a collection of letters on a trip made in the Soviet Union ("travel notes of Italo Calvino") published on the Unit received the Saint-Vincent.

In 1955 he was promoted by Einaudi as a Manager keeping this qualification until June 1961; After that date becomes editorial consultant. The same year goes out on "Comparison literature", "the marrow of the lion", the first in a series of essays, aimed at establishing their own idea of literature than the main cultural trends of the time.

The following year (1956) go out "Le fiabe italiane" consolidating, with resounding success, the image of Italo Calvino as fabulist. The 1956, however, it is very important for another significant fact and crucial in the writer's life: the facts about Hungary, the invasion of Communist Russia in restless Prague, cause detachment of the writer from Pci and lead him to give up a direct political engagement.

His creativity is always fruitful and unstoppable, so much so that one does not count his collaborations in magazines, his writings and stories (he won the Bagutta Prize in those years), and the preparation of some trendy songs or musical librettos for operas like "Allez-hop" of his friend and colleague Luciano Berio. In short, a cultural and artistic activities across the Board.

In these years he writes "Il visconte dimezzato", "Il barone rampante", "The nonexistent Knight", "Mah".

In the late 1950s was also six-month stay in the United States, coinciding with the release of the trilogy "our ancestors" while appearing on "Dummy" (another magazine of money in those days), the essay "the sea of objectivity".

In 1964 is a fundamental shift in the private lives of the writer: marries an argentina and moved to Paris, while continuing to partner with Einaudi. The year after his first daughter was born, John, who brings a sense of personal rebirth and energy.

Out in the meantime the volume "Cosmicomics," followed in 1967 "t zero", in which he reveals his youthful passion for astronomical and cosmological theories.

In parallel, Calvino develops a strong interest in issues related to semiotics and deconstruction of text, so that comes to adopt very intellectual processes in the development of her novels, as happens for example in that game of mirrors that is "If on a winter's night a traveler".

Amazing incline, steady the whole work of Calvin, it still represents the most authentic rope of the writer. In many of his works, in fact, he breaks a rule of life (and much of the literature) who wants to be a part of reality, on the other hand the fiction. Calvin, however, often mixes the two floors, making extraordinary things happen and often impossible within a realistic, without missing a beat or the one nor to the other side. One of its features is the ability to maintain in respect of the subject matter, a lightweight approach, retained by most disturbing aspects sharp humor, with an attitude almost of serene wisdom.

"Elegance", "lightness", "measure", "clarity", "rationality" are concepts that more usually used to define the work of Italo Calvino; in fact, they identify real aspects of the personality of the writer though, at the same time, are likely to underestimate others, equally present and decisive.

In the 1970s, are also rich in contributions, written but especially of prizes, which collect in quantity. Rejects the Viareggio Prize for "t zero" but takes two years after the premium Asti, the Feltrinelli Prize and of the accademia dei Lincei and of the city of Nice, Malik and others. During this time, a very important commitment is represented also by Einaudi necklace "Centopagine", in which they are published, in addition to the classic Europeans most dear to him (Stevenson, Conrad, Stendhal, Hoffmann, Balzac and Tolstoy), several minor Italian writers between ' 800 and ' 900.

Meanwhile, villa was completed of Roccamare, Castiglione della Pescaia, where Calvin spends every summer. On the level of commitment of writing began writing in 1974 in "Corriere della sera" stories, trip reports and articles about political and social reality of the country; the cooperation lasted until 1979. He also wrote for the radio series "impossible interviews" the "dialogues of Montezuma" and "Neanderthal man". In 1976 lectures in many universities in the United States, while travelling in Mexico and Japan give ideas to some articles, which are then incorporated into "collections". Receives in Vienna "Staatpreis".

He moved to Rome in 1980 in piazza Campo Marzio a stone's throw from the Pantheon. Collects in the volume "bygones" the writings of "discourses of literature and society" the most significant part of his speeches about Terry Pratchett from 1955 onwards. In 1981 receives the Légion d'honneur. Care the largest collection of writings by Queneau "signs, numbers and letters".

In 1982 at La Scala in Milan is represented "the real story", written together with the already mentioned composer Luciano Berio. This year is also the musical action "Duo", the first nucleus of the future Un re in ascolto ", composed in collaboration with Berio.

In 1983 he was appointed for a month "directeur d ' ètudes" at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes. In January, lecturing on "Science et metaphore chez Galilèe" and reads in English at New York University the Conference "World written and unwritten world". In 1985, having been asked to give a series of lectures in the United States (in the prestigious Harvard University), prepares the now famous "American lessons", which however will remain unfinished, and will be published only posthumously in 1988.

During the 1984 following the corporate crisis of Einaudi decides to go to the Garzanti where sand "and" Collection "Cosmicomics appear old and new". Makes trips to Argentina and in Sevilla where he participated in a Conference on fantastic literature. In 1985 "La canzone del polistirene" of Queneau and during the summer working on a cycle of six conferences. On 6 September, he was seized by stroke in Castiglione della Pescaia.

Admitted to hospital Santa Maria della Scala in Siena, Italo Calvino died on September 19, 1985, at the age of 61 years, suffering from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Bibliography by Italo Calvino

Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno (1947)
The sons armchairs (1948)
Ultimo viene il corvo (1949)
Travel journals in the USSR by Italo Calvino (1951)
Il visconte dimezzato (1952)
The Argentine Ant (1952)
The entry into war (1954)
The bench. One-act Opera (1956)
Italian fairy tales, collected by the folk tradition over the last hundred years and transcribed in language from the various dialects from (1956)
Il barone rampante (1957)
The youth of the Po (1957; in "workshop")
I racconti (1958)
The great calm of the Antilles (1957)
The nonexistent Knight (1959)
Our ancestors (The nonexistent Knight; Il visconte dimezzato; Il barone rampante) (1960)
The day of a scrutinizing glance (1963)
Speculation (1963)
Marcovaldo, ovvero Le stagioni in città (1963)
The cloud of smog and The Argentine Ant (1965)
Cosmicomics (1965)
T zero (1967)
The memory of the world and other stories cosmicomiche (1968)
Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando furioso, narrated by Diller with a choice of poem (1970)
Gli amori difficili (1970)
Invisible cities (1972)
The castle of crossed destinies (1973)
If on a winter's night a traveler (1979)
Palomar (1983)
UN re in ascolto (1986)

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