Monday, September 19, 2005

Italo Calvino: invisible cities, cities of ideas, ideas masquerading as cities

Today, 19 September 2005, is the 20th anniversary of the death of Italo Calvino. From Calvino's last novel, Palomar:
"First of all, you must not confuse being dead with not being, a condition that occupies the vast expanse of time before birth, apparently symmetrical with the other, equally vast expanse that follows death. In fact, before birth we are part of the infinite possibilities that may or may not be fulfilled; whereas, once dead, we cannot fulfill ourselves either in the past (to which we now belong entirely but on which we can no longer have any influence) or in the future (which, even if influenced by us, remains forbidden to us)."
One exquisite writer writing about another exquisite writer: essayist Gore Vidal on Calvino. Something shorter? Translator William Weaver on Invisible Cities:
These cities may have been invisible to the sedentary emperor, but as the tireless Marco Polo made him see the most remote places, so Calvino recreates them for us, and -- no matter how distant -- they are eminently, unforgettably visible.

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