Into the war by Italo Calvino
Translator Martin Mclaughlin
Italo Calvino was considered one of the most inventive modern italian writers in his time born in cuba he grew up in San Remo which was occupied by the german when the occupied the northern area of italy ,he joined the partisans ,this collection of three short stories set during the second world war was published during the fifties .They have just been translated into English .
Into the war is a trio of loosely interlinked short stories this collection is only 90 pages all together .It also demonstrates the more straight forward side of Calvino’s writing ,more known for his later experiential works like invisible cities and on a winter night .. .The books are set in 1940 and focus on three different generations , the first into the war we meet a young guy just join Il Duce’s army he is moved around told to do this and that and is let down from the dreams he had in a way .the second Avanguardisti in mention ,we join an army unit this is a slightly more experienced solider ,as he and his comrades travelled to an occupied part of france and the only bit that the Italians took early in the second world war .The third story is a comic war-time tale as we see what can happen in a blackout ,as a man the narrator isn’t where he was supposed to be looking after a school, no he is trying to find strange delights in the night .
It was a moonless night .The school building still reflected a vague brightness .I had arranged to meet Biancome there,but of course he was not on time .Beyond the school ,in the darkness ,there were houses and fields .You could hear the sound of crickets and frogs .
from story UNPA nights (an Italian form of air raid wardens )
I can’t say much about the stories as that give away too much, a little research into Calvino’s own background shows that a lot of what happened him these stories certainly the first to is from first hand experience ,he was in the fascist scouts and briefly had to join the army and travelled to the part of france described in the second story during the same time as the story set .These as I said a start are from the journalistic side of his writing and shows that at the end of the day he was a great writer with out the need to use the clever tricks and oulipo style he used in later novels and is more known for than this more autobiographical style of writing .I now really want to read his novel based on his time during the war” The path to the nest of spider ” which he published before these stories but is also largely autobiographical like the stories are The three stories were translated by Martin Mclaughlin and these stories were translated by him last year 2011 .A worthy successor to the great William Weaver who translated most of Calvino’s other work .
Have you read any of Calvino’s works ?