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Six memos for the next millennium

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Italo Calvino, one of the world's best storytellers, died on the eve of his departure for Harvard, where he was to deliver the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures in 1985-86. Reticent by nature, he was always reluctant to talk about himself, but he welcomed the opportunity to talk about the making of literature. In the process of devising his lectures--his wife recalls that they were an "obsession" for the last year of his life--he could not avoid mention of his own work, his methods, intentions, and hopes. This book, then, is Calvino's legacy to us: those universal values he pinpoints for future generations to cherish become the watchword for our appreciation of Calvino himself. What about writing should be cherished? Calvino, in a wonderfully simple scheme, devotes one lecture (a memo for his reader) to each of five indispensable literary values. First there is "lightness" (leggerezza), and Calvino cites Lucretius, Ovid, Boccaccio, Cavalcanti, Leopardi, and Kundera--among others, as always--to show what he means: the gravity of existence has to be borne lightly if it is to be borne at all. There must be "quickness," a deftness in combining action (Mercury) with contemplation (Saturn). Next is "exactitude," precision and clarity of language. The fourth lecture is on "visibility," the visual imagination as an instrument for knowing the world and oneself. Then there is a tour de force on "multiplicity," where Calvino brilliantly describes the eccentrics of literature (Elaubert, Gadda, Musil, Perec, himself) and their attempt to convey the painful but exhilarating infinitude of possibilities open to humankind. The sixth and final lecture - worked out but unwritten - was to be called "Consistency." Perhaps surprised at first, we are left to ponder how Calvino would have made that statement, and, as always with him, the pondering leads to more. With this book Calvino gives us the most eloquent, least defensive "defense of literature" scripted in our century - a fitting gift for the next millennium. Esther Calvino has supervised the preparation of this book. She is Italo Calvino's Argentinian-born wife and a translator for several international organizations. Among Calvino's best-known works of fiction are Invisible Cities, Cosmicomics, The Baron in the Trees, if on a winter's night a traveler, and Mr. Palomar.
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9780674810402
9780544230965
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID661447d5-b8b5-0991-21f6-8b83e5c2ae85
Grouping Titlesix memos for the next millennium
Grouping Authoritalo calvino
Grouping Categorybook
Grouping LanguageEnglish (eng)
Last Grouping Update2020-10-29 00:02:02AM
Last Indexed2020-10-29 04:20:25AM
Novelist Primary ISBNnone

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display_description"One of the most rigorously presented and beautifully illustrated critical testaments in all of literature."-Boston Globe "A brilliant, original approach to literature, a key to Calvino's own work and a thoroughly delightful and illuminating commentary on some of the world's greatest writing."-San Francisco Chronicle At the time of his death, Italo Calvino was at work on six lectures setting forth the qualities in writing he most valued, and which he believed would define literature in the century to come. Here, in Six Memos for the Next Millennium, are the five lectures he completed, forming not only a stirring defense of literature, but also an indispensable guide to the writings of Calvino himself. He devotes one "memo" each to the concepts of lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, and multiplicity, drawing examples from his vast knowledge of myth, folklore, and works both ancient and modern. Readers will be astonished by the prescience of these lectures, which have only gained in relevance as Calvino's "next millennium" has dawned.
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2016
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hoopla:MWT13391439eBookeBookEnglishHoughton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.1 online resource
ils:.b10776631BookBooksEnglishHarvard University Press, 1988.124 p. ; 22 cm.
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seriesCharles Eliot Norton lectures
series_with_volumeCharles Eliot Norton lectures|1985-1986
subject_facetElectronic books
Literary style
Literature -- History and criticism
Literature -- Philosophy
title_displaySix memos for the next millennium
title_fullSix memos for the next millennium / Italo Calvino
Six memos for the next millennium [electronic resource] Calvino, Italo,
title_shortSix memos for the next millennium
topic_facetElectronic books
History and criticism
Literary style
Literature
Philosophy