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Under the Radiant Sun and the Crescent Moon

Under the Radiant Sun and the Crescent Moon: Italo Calvino's Storytelling

  • Book Info
    Under the Radiant Sun and the Crescent Moon
    Book Description:

    Understanding Italo Calvino?s love of storytelling is pivotal to understanding the cultural and literary matrix of his lush fictional universe. A rich and vibrant critical portrait of Calvino?s work.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8286-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. The City of Crossed Destinies: A Preface in the Form of a Story
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Historical Notes
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-2)

    As Italo Calvinoʹs death becomes a more distant event, we wonder about the place occupied by his work in what is rapidly becoming ʹthe past.ʹ The least productive way of answering that question is the one chosen by those critics and historians of literature who have engaged in debate over classification and ranking, arguing whether or not Calvinoʹs fiction can be placed alongside the ʹclassicsʹ; whether he is first, second, or third on the literary team; and whether he is less exalted than many thought, or greater than some believed.¹

    Certainly the urge to classify once and for all the...

  6. 1 Literature and Doubt
    (pp. 3-34)

    For a young man of the well-to-do, well-educated middle class, who was in his teens in the thirties and living in a small town in Italy, evidence of the contradictions that filled daily life must have been fraught with mystery. On the one hand, there was the obvious comfort and sense of safety provided by a culture deeply rooted in the past; on the other, there was growing repression, which was silencing some of the best and brightest critics of the regime, throwing a pall over all intellectual life, and causing anxiety and confusion. Books were forbidden, people were being...

  7. 2 Surveyors
    (pp. 35-64)

    The Italian title of one of the most controversial² of Calvinoʹs books,La giornata dʹuno scrutatore, plays on the ambivalence inherent in the second substantive. ʹScrutatoreʹ refers here to a poll watcher, but may also indicate someone who intensely focuses the eye on the object of interest.³ Although the term entered the Calvinian lexicon for the first time with that slim volume, the action it described,scrutare, had already been a major feature of Calvinoʹs fiction and essays, and would remain so until his very last writings. His protagonists are usually searchers who inspect and watch intently the world around...

  8. 3 Survivors, or The Pastoral Denied
    (pp. 65-100)

    Nature was never ʹjust natureʹ for Calvino (assuming that any human being can differ from him on that point). He saw natureʹs materiality and conceptual construct filtered through a combination of scientific and literary models. The magnificent autobiographical piece entitled ʹLa strada di San Giovanniʹ (The Road to San Giovanni) testifies to the double pattern of organization and contemplation his mind elaborated. On the one hand, there was the severe model of paternal and maternal thought and practice (paceBonura 19, who seems to forget the impact on the young Calvino of his botanist motherʹs stern world-vision); on the other...

  9. 4 Telling Stories
    (pp. 101-133)

    Calvinoʹs coming of age took place under the contradictory signs of private comfort and dramatic public events. Then, from the leaden years of dictatorial regimes, a period emerged when Europe seemed to have become as young as the protagonists of a victorious struggle. Through it all, even in spite of the drawing power of action during a time of armed struggle, another domain had beckoned to the young man: The faraway castle of literature drew near and opened up as a welcoming havenʹ (ʹil lontano castello della letteratura sʹapriva come un porto vicino ed amicoʹ;Il sentiero dei nidi di...

  10. 5 Between Garbage and Cosmos
    (pp. 134-154)

    Calvino, as we have seen, was a particularly consistent writer throughout his various ʹperiods,ʹ a writer faithful to certain thematic and metanarrative concerns. Right from the start, in the collection of short stories entitledUltimo viene il corvo, which included the short fiction he had written from 1945 to 1949, he privileged a basic motif, that of the worldʹs dual presence, as his protagonists had the sudden revelation of a disturbing reverse side of reality (ʹil rovescio delle coseʹ;Ultimo viene il corvo121) that was hidden under the surface of things. The authorʹs interest in human experience and its...

  11. 6 Under the Crescent Moon
    (pp. 155-178)

    Critics who have written about the feminine in the works of Italo Calvino have concentrated almost exclusively on two characters, the Amazon and the Reader. But the feminine takes more numerous and complex configurations in Calvinoʹs fiction, well before and after the appearance of those two specific images. The transformations of that essential component of Calvinoʹs literary universe confirm the internal coherence of the writerʹs work, its evolution, and its profound connection with the culture of which he was a critical, but faithful, heir.

    The first short story published by Calvino, in 1946, entitled ʹPaura sul sentieroʹ (Fear on the...

  12. Bibliographical Information
    (pp. 179-190)
  13. Index
    (pp. 191-197)