Calvino, Italo

Calvino, Italo

Calvino, Italo, 1923-85, Italian novelist. Calvino was one of the most popular novelists of the 20th cent. Although loneliness is an essential condition in his writings, he imbues his stories with passion and celebrates the human capacity for love and imagination. During the 1940s, he was associated with Italian neo-realist writers, such as Elio Vittorini, Cesare Pavese, and Natalia Levi Ginzburg. During the 1950s, however, Calvino turned to fantasy and allegory. His trilogy of historical fantasies—The Cloven Viscount (1952), The Baron in the Trees (1957), and The Nonexistent Knight (1959)—brought him international acclaim. Other important works include Cosmicomics (1965, tr. 1968), Italian Folktales (1956, tr. 1980), and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (1979, tr. 1981).

See his autobiographical essays in The Road to San Giovanni (tr. 1993), and other autobiographical writings in Hermit in Paris (tr. 2003); studies by S. M. Adler (1979) and I. T. Olken (1984).

(born Oct. 15, 1923, Santiago de las Vegas, Cuba—died Sept. 19, 1985, Siena, Italy) Cuban-born Italian writer. After early works inspired by his involvement with the Italian Resistance in World War II, he turned decisively to fantasy and allegory in the 1950s. Cosmicomics (1965) is a collection of whimsical narratives about the creation and evolution of the universe. The novels Invisible Cities (1972), The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1973), and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (1979) use playfully innovative structures and shifting viewpoints. The Uses of Literature (1980) is a collection of essays he wrote for a left-wing journal he edited from 1959 to 1966.

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Cimmeria is a fictional country in Italo Calvino's novel If on a Winters Night a Traveler. The country is described as having existed as an independent state between World War I and World War II. The capital is Örkko, and its principal resources are peat and by-products, bitumonous compounds. It seems to have been located somewhere on the Gulf of Bothnia. The country has since been absorbed, and its people and language, of the 'Bothno-Ugaric' group, have both disappeared. As Calvino concludes the alleged, fictional encyclopedia entry concerning Cimmeria: "In successive territorial divisions between her powerful neighbors the young nation was soon erased from the map; the autochthonous population was dispersed; Cimmerian language and culture had no development (If on a Winters Night a Traveler, pp.44-45)"

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