The castle of cross destinies by Italo Calvino

castle of crossed destinies

The castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino

Italian Fiction

Orginial title – Il castello dei destini incrociati

Translator – William Weaver

Source – Library

Well I’ve review three  of Calvino’s books before on the blog the Cuban born Italian writer is one of my personnel favourite writers ,he is considered one of greatest writer of 20 th century ,he wrote in various styles from realistic like his book into the war I reviewed here ,which was based on his world war two experiences  ,to surreal  like if on a winters night which I reviewed here  and post modern .He was also a member of the Oulipo group of writers .

i also try to

Now I mention the Oulipo connection because this book is just a perfect example of what that movement hope to achieve .The book takes the form of fifteen tales told at a castle and a tavern .Now it is how the stories are told ,because the people in the book telling the stories have been struck silent and have now power of speech to talk to each other . So they tell each other their stories via a pack of tarrot cards and are narrator fills in the gaps and makes stories for each of them .so we meet an alchemist ,grave robber doomed bride amongst others  at the castle .At the tavern we have waverer ,a forest seeking revenge and warriors .The narratives told are similar in there ways to books like Decameron and canterbury tales .The cards frame the stories and characters .


The stories show how as Calvino said ” a finite number of elements whose combinations are multiplied in a billion billion” Thus a pack of tarot could throw up any number of tales ,but then we have how do we tell the stories ,is it through the words of the narrator or the pictures on the cards how do we decide where to go when the same card with different number appear in different stories .What Calvino does is to spin the tale each time from card to card as he chooses the cards for each tale so we see how each character arrived at the castle or tavern and what has happened to them rather like the tales of the decameron and Canterbury  ,there was meant to be a third part to this et at a motel in the future that Calvino never wrote .This book is very unusual and is one of those books people are going to either love or hate ,now I loved it I love the thought of playing with what is storytelling test the boundaries by in a way cutting the chances down I mean each of these stories is formed from a tarot pack which normally contains 78 cards so thou the stories are infinite the route of the story has only a 1 in 78 chance to move on .Have you read any Oulipo books ?I chooose to use pages instead of writing quotes as it illustrates the stories much better than just the writing as you miss half of it because of their being no cards to see .

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Hill
    Oct 07, 2013 @ 09:14:34

    Fascinating! I’ve only read If On a Winter’s Night, but I have Invisible Cities on my TBR and now I’m going to zip off to the BD and order this one too!


  2. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Oct 07, 2013 @ 09:24:19

    I *love* Calvino’s books and I love how he plays with the ways fiction works. I read everything by him about 30 years ago and you’ve really made me want to revisit this book now!


  3. Guy Savage
    Oct 07, 2013 @ 14:11:33

    I read Electrico by Hervé Le Tellier another Oulipo book. I don’t like experimental stuff when it goes really bonkers (as in no punctuation for example). but Electrico was a good read.


  4. Brian Joseph
    Oct 08, 2013 @ 08:07:37

    This sounds like such an intriguing plot. I really want to read this book. The use of the cards seems fascinating.


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October 2013


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