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Italo Calvino:
Letters, 1941-1985
Italo Calvino
Selected and with an introduction by Michael Wood
Translated by Martin McLaughlin

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]


"Superbly translated by Martin McLaughlin, these letters place Calvino in the larger frame of 20th century Italy and provide a showcase for his refined and civil voice. . . . Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985 is a charming addition to the Planet Calvino--a place cluttered with sphinxes, chimeras, knights, spaceships and viscounts both cloven and whole."--Ian Thomson, Guardian

"[I]mpeccably translated and annotated."--Robert Gordon, Literary Review

"[A]ltogether fantastic. . . . Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985 is indispensable in its entirety, a treasure trove of timeless insight on literature and life."--Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"The general reader will come away from the Letters admiring this skeptical, loyal, generous, industrious man, who gave the life of letters the dignity it so often seems to lack."--Adam Kirsch, Barnes and Noble Review

"It is impossible to overstate just how sublime and richly insightful Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985 is in its entirety."--Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"This selection of letter offers intellectual riches and access to the workings of a wholly original mind. The presentation of the book is exemplary, with copious, precise notes by Martin McLaughlin identifying not only the recipients of the letters but also the background to the topics under discussion. McLaughlin's translation is fluent and elegant throughout."--Joseph Farrell, The (Scotland) Herald

"[F]ascinating. . . . A vastly entertaining collection, meticulously edited and annotated."--Peter Sirr, Irish Times

"As the letters chart Calvino's journey from postwar communist concerns with faithfulness to history to his destiny as an imaginative maestro more concerned with being faithful to the universe, the text both instructs and entertains."--Gregory Day, WA Today

"[C]ompelling."--Tiffany Nichols, City Book Review

"[D]eeply rewarding."--Lisa Hilton, Standpoint

"[I]t is provides a far greater insight into the life of Italo Calvino than an ordinary biography would have done."--Artswrap

"Michael Wood has made a studious selection of Calvino's letters and a provides an insightful introduction that frames his selection in the larger tableau of Calvino's life and work. Ample notes further clarify many of the personal and historical details as well as the Italian idioms that appear throughout these letters. It is a book worthy of both study and appreciation."--Stephan Delbos, BODY

"Selected and introduced by Michael Wood, translated by Martin McLaughlin, the collection is a mesmerizing peek inside the thinking of the great modern fabulist. . . . Much of [Calvino's] letter writing seems to be an exercise in clear expression. . . . He is a writer as scrupulous and demanding on himself as he is on the world around him. Calvino took the role of public intellectual very seriously, convinced in his job to explore the fringes of thought. . . . A writer of such great control and refreshing playfulness, Calvino reveals how serious and unsure his journey was in this collection of candid letters."--Seth Satterlee, PWxyz (Publishers Weekly blog)

"There is much to admire in McLaughlin's translation of the letters, not least his sensitivity to Calvino's variations of style and tone, from the ironic to the pedantic. The collection also provides new texts in English that provide valuable insights into the germination of Calvino's best-known works. It captures the writer's generosity and integrity and, above all, his deep and abiding passion for literary culture."--Rita Wilson, Sydney Review of Books


"Calvino liked to present an inscrutable face to the world, but this literally marvelous collection of letters shows him to have been gregarious, puckish, funny, combative, and, above all, wonderful company, and opens a new and fascinating perspective on one of the master writers of the twentieth century. Michael Wood and Martin McLaughlin have done Calvino, and us, a great and loving service."--John Banville, author of Ancient Light

"Italo Calvino was one of the most sparkling literary inventors and innovators of the twentieth century. He was also a highly astute mediator of the work of others and a pellucid purveyor of a subtly elaborated idea of literature. To have a generous selection of his letters in English, translated with great verve, represents a major addition to our knowledge of his work, offering countless precious glimpses of the gears and levers that operate the 'literature machine.'"--Robert S. C. Gordon, University of Cambridge

"These letters are invaluable. They are an important source for understanding the intellectual and historical context of Italo Calvino's writing and thought, and his relations with other writers. They are filled with irony and insights on a vast variety of interesting literary and cultural topics. And they are beautifully written--a literary achievement in themselves. This translation is a real achievement as well."--Lucia Re, University of California, Los Angeles

"This is an excellent translation."--Andrea Ciccarelli, Indiana University

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File created: 4/24/2017

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