cover image The Written World and the Unwritten World: Essays

The Written World and the Unwritten World: Essays

Italo Calvino, trans. from the Italian by Ann Goldstein. Mariner Classics, $17.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-544-14699-0

Essays, reviews, and a few letters come together in this wonderful collection from novelist Calvino (1923–1985) that surveys his varied interests and discerning style. The first section, on reading, writing, and translating, contains his musings on autobiographical writing (“I’m in favor of it”) and on the fate of the novel: “The important thing is that good books be written, and, in particular, good stories: whether they are novels or not, what does it matter?” A section on publishing outlines his plans to create a literary journal for discourse on “very ‘Italian’ problems”; the third section sees his thoughts on “the fantastic tale... one of the most meaningful for us, in the sense that it says many things about the inner life of the individual and about collective symbology.” The collection closes with reflections on science, history, and anthropology, including his review of the 1977 book Cannibals and Kings (which offers many “satisfactions”). Calvino’s prose is sparkling as ever, and he approaches ideas with wit and an open mind, always ready to challenge a stale point of view. This anthology will delight Calvino fans old and new. (Jan.)