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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 512

The Cloven Viscount is a novel by Italo Calvino. The story of the novel centers on a young aristocrat who goes to war. During an intense battle, the Viscount is cut in half by an enemy soldier. In Calvino's fantasy novel, the Viscount does not die, but survives to exist as his separate halves. One side of him is evil, whilst the other half is virtuous.

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Quote 1

That's the good thing about being halved. One understands the sorrow of every person and thing in the world at its own incompleteness.


The Viscount ponders his misfortune of being cut in half. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he reflects on the lessons he had learned as an "incomplete" human being. Before he rode off into battle, the Viscount was a sheltered aristocrat in his safe kingdom. Although he was attentive towards his subjects, he could not fully empathize with anyone, especially those who are less privileged than him. When the Viscount was halved during battle, both of his halves took on separate and polar archetypes representing good and evil. Although the evil half was focused on gaining more power and the good half was content helping others, they were still not complete. When the Viscount became whole again at the end of the story, he realized that being whole—in which one accepts both his good and bad sides—is essential to being human.

Quote 2

It’s not only me . . . who am a split being, but you and everyone else too. Now I have a fellowship which I did not understand, did not know before, when whole, a fellowship with all the mutilated and incomplete things in the world.


This quote emphasizes the epiphany that the Viscount experienced. However, in this passage, the Viscount also realizes that he is not the only person in the world who was split in half. He concludes that all people and living things are incomplete in this world until they make peace with every...

(The entire section contains 512 words.)

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