Six memos for the next milennium by Italo Calvino

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Six memos for the next millennium by Italo Calvino

Italian Non-fiction

Original title –  Sei proposte per il prossimo millennio

Translator – Patrick Creagh

Source – personal copy

I have been rather remiss of Italian lit month, so I have decided to extend it into April so I can get a few more titles up on the blog. Today I have chosen a non-fiction work by a writer that I have featured a number of times on the blog Italo Calvin a writer whom I have featured four times before on the blog. This collection unfinished is the last thing he was working on before he died a series of lectures for the Charles Eliot Norton lectures. He had written five of them which are featured here.

After forty years of writing fiction, after exploring various roads and making diverse experiments, the time has come for me to look for an overall definition of my work, I would suggest this my working method has more often than not involved the subtraction of wieght. I have tried to remove wieght from structure of stories and from language.

In this talk I shall try to explain – both to myself and to you – why I have come to consider lightness a value rather than a defect; to indicate the works of the past in which I recongnizemy ideal of lightness; and to show where I situate this value in the present and how I project it into the future.

From the first lecture Lightness on how he lightened his workover time.

The five lectures are titled lightness, quickness, exactitude visibility and Multiplicity. He opens in the first lecture by saying in the lectures he wants to show his journey as a writer of forty years from a realist to a member of the Oulipo group.He references over the first four lecture many writers he has been touched by as a writer from Ovid to the German writer Robert Musil. One writer that recurs through the pieces in the great Italian poet and writer Giacomo Leopardi best known for his epic collection of notebooks the Zibaldone,  which I got two thirds through the other year. Calvino describes how he wrote so clearly on Astronomy when he was just fifteen. Then later a connection between the infinite nature of writing and maths. The last piece is the one I will describe more fully as it is the one that grabbed me it is called multiplicity and is about the multiple nature of narrative. He starts with a description of Gadda as he says he is a writer that isn’t often read in the US. A piece very much connected with the later period of Calvino’s writing he mentions how he used this concept in his book  The Castle of cross destinies, which I reviewed it is a story using a pack of cards to direct the narrative. He also mentions his fellow Oulipo writer Perec work Life which like the castle has multiple narrative threads in it.

Carlo Emilo Gadda tried all his life to represent the world as a knot a tangled skein of yarn; to represent  it without in the least diminishing the inextricable complexity or, put it better, the simultaneous presence of the most disparte elements that converge to determine every event. He was led to this vision of things by his his intellectual training, his temperament as a writer, and his neuroses.As an engineer, Gadda was brought up on the culture of science, equipped with techincal know-how and a positive fervorfor philosophy.

I was remind of CP Snow and his talk of the two cultures

This one will appeal to fans of Calvino want to know more about what drove him as a writer. The piece almost follows his career from the first lecture where he talks about at first trying to be a realist writer this is shown in his book Into war which I have also reviewed. Then he later talks about being drawn to Folktales and writer like Petract drew him to write Italian folktales in the middle part of his career. then he explains how he was drawn towards Oulipo and the multiple nature of narratives and what they can do. I enjoyed this I have a number of his other books on my shelves so this is a great companion to them and what drove him as a writer. Have you a favourite book by Italo Calvino.

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The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles by Giorgio Bassani

The Gold-rimmed spectacles by Giorgio Bassani

Italian fiction

Original title – Gli occhiali d’oro

Translator – Jamie McKenrick

Source – library book

I announced in January that I was doing Italian Lit month in March well here we go I have read a few books not as many as I had hoped but hope to bring mostly Italian books over this month and I start with A modern Classic. Giorgio Bassani was considered one of the best post-war Italian writers A Jewish writer he ended up during the war in the same town as this book as a teacher in the Jewish school there. He married briefly after the war edited a literary magazine for a number of years. Where he started publishing short stories and then this was his second novel he had written on in the war years published under a fake name.

Soon enough, going to Fadigati’s became more than a fashion, became a distinct pleasure. Especially on winter ebenings, when the icy wind, whistling, threaded its way from the Piazza Catterdrale down Via Gorgadello, it was with a frank satisfaction that the rich bourgeois, wrapped up in his fur coat, using the pretext of the faintest of sore throats to slip inside the half closed little door,would climb up the two staircases and ring the bell at the glass door.

Fadigati is the toast of the town early on in the book but then he takes a downward spiral.

The gold-rimmed spectacles is the story of a Jewish Doctor.Athos Fadigati is a doctor.He is the one the upper class in the town like to use as he is considered cultured. But there are two things about him that we learn early on the first is he is Jewish the second he is Gay. So he is a well-known figure in the town of Ferrara. He tries to fit in mainly by keeping his homosexuality undercover. He meets one man whilst going on the train, this is where the narrator sees him. We see in the townsfolk of Ferrara as this novella unfolds a changing attitude towards the Doctor from Open at first. But as a former Lover lets go that they were together and this is after a few years of Mussolini ruling. So his patients start disappearing. But the attitudes are starting to change the town has a Jewish community, but as the rest of the townsfolk are wanting to follow the new rules their lives start getting harder. The narrator is a fellow Jew watching the Doctors life fall apart in front of him over time. Til he is left with few options as the town turns against him.

For quite some time, during the whole journey, he kept apart in his second class carriage.

Taking it in turns, profiting from stops the train made at San Giorgio de piano or San Pietro in Casale, one of our grup would leap out with the task of buying something to eat from the bar of the small station: rolls filled with freshly wrapped, raw salami , almond-studded chocolate that tasted of soap, half-mouldy Osvego biscuits. Turning to look at the stationary train, and then walking past the carriage after carriage at a certain point we could distinguish Dr Fadigati, who from behind the thick glass of his compartment, would be watching people crossing the tracks and hurrying back to the third class carriages.

The narrator tells of his trips on the train and the doctor going with them.

This is a study of what Bassani must have seemed himself in the small towns where over the years of Mussolini the Jewish people living there found their lives were getting hard by the day. This is the first in a number of books and stories he wrote about the small time of Ferrara a town where he taught over the war years so the sense of hatred and turn against people that were once your friends must have been so real to him and as he wrote so much about them.The book was made into a film. This is an interesting novella from one of the best post-war Italian writers I’m lucky to have a couple of other books by him on my tbr so maybe I may get to him again this month.

 

Italian Lit month March 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know I do Spanish lit month with Richard, but I was sat the other day in my book room and started looking at how many books from Italy. I thought I would love to do an Italian lit month since reading most of Zibaldone last year one of the defining books of Italian literature. I have been wanting to add a few more titles to my Italian list.So I decide March is a quiet month for me blog-wise I would suggest doing a lit month for Italy. I also like to throw in a couple of films at some point not quite made mind up which two to pick to watch.  I have on my shelves from Alberto Moravia and Italo Svevo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both of whom I have read but neither is on the blog.Then I have read and reviewed a few books from Italo Calvino and a couple by Claudio Magris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danube is one I want to feature after finishing river recently another book based around a river . Then I also have a couple of books by Giorgio Bassani and Giovanni Verga .Then I have a number of books by Europa editions which is an offshoot of an Italian publisher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They have published crime novels, lit fiction and of course Elena Ferrante.HAve you a favourite Italian writer?

Some websites and lists

Best Italian novels on Goodreads.

Tim parks five books from Italy .

10 modern Novels from Italy 

15 Italian writers who aren’t Elena Ferrante

Italian cultural institute  .

Complete review Italian lit under review.

My Italian reviews.

OUP  blog why read Italian Literature 

Europa Editions

 

 

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