|Born||Italo Giovanni Calvino Mameli
15 October 1923
Santiago de Las Vegas, Cuba
|Died||19 September 1985
|Occupation||Journalist, short story writer, novelist, essayist|
|Literary movement||Neorealism, Postmodernism|
The Baron in the Trees
I feel so at home in New York that I don't have the urge to write about it.
A classic is a book which with each rereading offers as much of a sense of discovery as the first reading.
The Classics are those books which constitute a treasured experience for those who have read and loved them; but they remain just as rich an experience for those who reserve the chance to read them for when they are in the best condition to enjoy them.
I write… sonnets… and writing sonnets is boring. You have to find rhymes; you have to write hendecasyllables; so after a while, I get bored and my drawer is overflowing with unfinished short poems.
Without translation, I would be limited to the borders of my own country. The translator is my most important ally. He introduces me to the world.
What Romantic terminology called genius or talent or inspiration is nothing other than finding the right road empirically, following one's nose, taking shortcuts.
Now you mustn't think that I don't have any ideas for novels in my head. I've got ideas for ten novels in my head. But with every idea I have, I already foresee the wrong novels I would write, because I also have critical ideas in my head; I've got a full theory of the perfect novel, and that's what stumps me.
Personally, I believe in fiction because the stories I like are those with a beginning and an end.
If the reader looks, I think he will find plenty of moral and political ideas in my stories.
What is modern art but the attempt to pinpoint vague, incorporeal, inexpressible sensations? What is modern art, I would add, but the most solemn pile of nonsense that ever appeared on Earth?
Writers divide into those who write biting their nails and those who don't. Some writers write licking their finger.
Classics are books which, the more we think we know them through hearsay, the more original, unexpected, and innovative we find them when we actually read them.
I'm terrified of writing at night, for then I can't sleep. So I start slowly, slowly writing in the morning and go on into the late afternoon.
I'm only a novelist on occasion. Many of my books are made up of brief texts collected together, short stories, or else they are books that have an overall structure but are composed of various texts.
Sometimes I try to concentrate on the story I would like to write, and I realize that what interests me is something else entirely, or, rather, not anything precise but everything that does not fit in what I ought to write.
I write by hand, making many, many corrections. I would say I cross out more than I write. I have to hunt for words when I speak, and I have the same difficulty when writing.
Turin is a city which entices a writer towards vigor, linearity, style. It encourages logic, and through logic it opens the way towards madness.
The catalogue of forms is endless: until every shape has found its city, new cities will continue to be born. When the forms exhaust their variety and come apart, the end of cities begins.
How much energy is wasted in Italy in trying to write the novel that obeys all the rules. The energy might have been useful to provide us with more modest, more genuine things, that had less pretensions: short stories, memoirs, notes, testimonials, or at any rate, books that are open, without a preconceived plan.
A quarter of America is a dramatic, tense, violent country, exploding with contradictions, full of brutal, physiological vitality, and that is the America that I have really loved and love. But a good half of it is a country of boredom, emptiness, monotony, brainless production, and brainless consumption, and this is the American inferno.
Every morning I tell myself, 'Today has to be productive' – and then something happens that prevents me from writing.
The satirist is prevented by repulsion from gaining a better knowledge of the world he is attracted to, yet he is forced by attraction to concern himself with the world that repels him.
I would very much like to be one of those writers who have something really clear in their head to say, and throughout their life they promote this idea in their works.
I'm a regular guy; I like well-defined outlines. I'm old-fashioned, bourgeois.
Biographical data, even those recorded in the public registers, are the most private things one has, and to declare them openly is rather like facing a psychoanalyst.
I detest this contemporary trend to destroy the traditional hierarchy of genres.
I change my method and field of reference from book to book because I can never believe in the same thing two times running.
In 'Cosmicomics,' I came close to science fiction – I was inspired by cosmological subjects and the workings of the universe and invented a character who was a sort of witness to everything that was happening inside the solar system.
I think today that politics registers very late things which society manifests through other channels, and I feel that often politics distorts and mystifies reality.
Rarely does an interviewer ask questions you did not expect. I have given a lot of interviews, and I have concluded that the questions always look alike. I could always give the same answers.
Every day I tell myself that reading newspapers is a waste of time, but then… I cannot do without them. They are like a drug.
I'm afraid I don't think I really have a life on which something can be written.
When I'm writing a book, I prefer not to speak about it, because only when the book is finished can I try to understand what I've really done and to compare my intentions with the result.
Bringing a child into the world makes sense only if this child is wanted consciously and freely by its two parents. If it is not, then it is simply animal and criminal behavior.
Every time I've had to do journalistic investigations, I've cursed, but later I discovered that it had helped me enormously with writing fiction. It's the one thing that can save me from becoming an academic writer.
Although I am small, ugly and dirty, I am highly ambitious, and at the slightest flattery, I immediately start to strut like a turkey.
The human race is a zone of living things that should be defined by tracing its confines.
The writer is someone who tears himself to pieces in order to liberate his neighbor.
In abortion, the person who is massacred, physically and morally, is the woman.
A human being becomes human not through the casual convergence of certain biological conditions, but through an act of will and love on the part of other people.
I do not understand how you can associate abortion with an idea of hedonism or the good life.
My stories are full of facts; they have a beginning and an end. For that reason, they will never… occupy a place in contemporary literature.
Of course, I'm of the generation that grew up with Hemingway and Faulkner as strong influences.
For the critic, the author does not exist; only a certain number of writings exist.
I do not have any political commitments anymore. I'm politically a total agnostic; I'm one of the few writers in Italy who refuses to be identified with a specific political party.
A classic is a work which persists as a background noise even when a present that is totally incompatible with it holds sway.
I am more and more convinced that literature is made up of works, genres, schools, discussions, problems, collective work in order to solve certain problems.
The public figure of the writer, the writer-character, the 'personality-cult' of the author, are all becoming for me more and more intolerable in others, and consequently in myself.
Man is simply the best chance we know of that matter has had of providing itself with information about itself.
Traveling, you realize that differences are lost: each city takes to resembling all cities, places exchange their form, order, distances, a shapeless dust cloud invades the continents.
I read Freud because I find him an excellent writer… a writer of police thrillers that can be followed with great passion.
I have spent more time with other people's books than with my own. I do not regret it.
A tale is born from an image, and the image extends and creates a network of meanings that are always equivocal.
Good literature can be created only with something that is different from literature.