Italo Calvino profiled on the BBC TV show Book Mark in 1985: [SLYT] Rare interview with the great Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels.
The New Yorker is publishing excerpts from Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985, translated by Martin McLaughlin, on its book blog. (via) [more inside]
With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else. December 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of Invisible Cities -- the sublime metaphysical travelogue by author-journalist Italo Calvino. In a series of pensive dialogues with jaded emperor Kublai Khan, the explorer Marco Polo describes a meandering litany of visionary and impossible places, dozens of surreal, fantastical cities, each poetically reifying ideas vital to language, philosophy, and the human spirit. This gracefully written love letter to urban life has inspired countless tributes, but it's just the most accessible of Calvino's fascinating literary catalogue. Look inside for a closer look at his most remarkable works, links to English translations of his magical prose, and collections of artistic interpretations from around the web -- including this treasure trove of essays, excerpts, articles, and recommended reading. [more inside]
Twelve Tales of Christmas is a podcast just launched by The Guardian featuring notable modern authors, such as Jeanette Winterson, Ali Smith, Colm Toíbin and Julian Barnes, reading one of their favorite short stories, by authors including JG Ballard, Katherine Mansfield, Italo Calvino, Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver. A story will be posted daily for the next 12 days. The first author and story is Philip Pullman reading The Beauties by Anton Chekhov (mp3). [rss, iTunes]
Paris: Ville Invisible. "This work seeks to show how real cities resemble the 'invisible cities' of Italo Calvino. As cluttered, saturated, and asphyxiating as it is, one can breathe more freely in Paris, the invisible city." The renowned French sociologist Bruno Latour presents a "virtual sociological book" that explores the limits of social theory for the understanding of urban life. The Flash interface is somewhat rickety, but there is a text-only PDF of the English version. (via)
Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities is so called because it asserts that what makes up a city is not so much its physical structure but the impression it imparts upon its visitors, the way its inhabitants move within, something unseen that hums between the cracks. This, however, has in no way dissuaded people from attempting to give form to his works. One such example is the Hotel Tressants, a building in Menorca, Spain containing 8 rooms named after and inspired by various cities from the novel. Meanwhile, artists offer illustrations1,2,3, installations 1,2,3,4,5, music1,2,3,4,5,6 and dance, hypertexts1,2, computer programs and animations, even View-Master slides, while intellectuals offer readings and commentary1,2, lectures1,2, and critical texts1,2,3 sparked by the man and his writings. It has been dubbed "The Calvino Effect". Do you know of any more?
"I was willing to bet that there was going to be a universe, and I hit the nail on the head." The other day we had Avram Davidson, which got me thinking of Calvino's Invisible Cities, but all the recent talk about black holes made me remember that Italo Calvino is at his most charming when he's playing with physics, math, and cosmology in Cosmicomics.
100,000,000,000,000 Poems. In 1961, French writer and mathematician Raymond Queneau published a work consisting of ten sonnets with the lines cut up so that they could be recombined in this number of ways. Magnus Bodin's page offers all the variations (in English, French or Swedish). Queneau, who also wrote a book consisting of one small incident described in 99 different styles, was a member of the OuLiPo group of writers, who chose to work under systematic constraints. Other members included George Perec, who wrote a novel without using the letter E, (a lipogram cleverly translated by Gilbert Adair), Italo Calvino, and Harry Matthews. Techniques to consider when filling that blog becomes a chore.