Italo Calvino Long Fiction Analysis
The anti-Fascist Resistance was the impetus for Italo Calvino’s first novel, as it was for a generation of Italian neorealists, who believed that literature should be dedicated, as Calvino asserted in the 1950’s, to “political engagement,” to “social battle.” In a slightly different way, the Resistance shaped the later Calvino. As the postwar period brought on disillusionment with power politics, Resistance writers had to find new directions. “What I did not want to renounce,” wrote Calvino in 1960, “was [the] epic adventurous grasp, the combination of physical and moral strength” of the literature that the Resistance inspired. Daily life having failed to provide such “images full ofenergy,” Calvino turned to nonrealistic literary forms such as the fairy tale, the fable, and the philosophical romance (in the trilogy Our Ancestors); to science fiction and cartoons (in Cosmicomics); to myth and tarot cards (in The Castle of Crossed Destinies); and, in general, toward metafiction, or fiction about fiction itself.
Calvino’s direction was not, in his view, a retreat from his earlier committed stance; it was, rather, an engagement with the cultural life that inspired the Resistance. In turning to popular sources such as the cartoon or the fairy tale, he intended to evoke the classless culture he found with the partisans in the Resistance, for whom storytelling was recreation and camaraderie. Calvino’s art...
(The entire section is 8471 words.)
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