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Italo Calvino


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Italian writer, who drew on his wartime experiences before turning to the erudite and witty fantasy novels for which he is best known.

Born in Santiago de las Vegas, Cuba, Calvino emigrated to his ancestral homeland as a child and fought with the Italian resistance during World War II. His first novel The Path to the Spiders' Nest (1947) depicted the confusions of an adolescent in a chaotic world in which adults find themselves equally powerless. Calvino subsequently took a degree in literature in Turin and worked for the communist periodical L'Unita. During the 1950s his writings turned to fantasy and allegory, often showing a preoccupation with the effects of chance and coincidence.

His three most striking compositions – The Cloven Viscount (1952), The Baron in the Trees (1957), and The Nonexistent Knight (1959) – were published together as The Ancestors (1960). From 1959 to 1966 Calvino edited the literary magazine Il Menabo di letteratura. His later novels, which include Invisible Cities (1972), The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1973), and If on a Winter's Night a Traveller (1979), gained a wide readership both inside and outside Italy.

Subjects: Literature

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Works by Italo Calvino