The castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino
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 .
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 .