The Nonexistent Knight

by Italo Calvino

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Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 129

Having begun his career as a writer of neorealist fictions, Calvino gradually turned to the writing of postmodern fables, such as Le citta invisibili (1972; Invisible Cities, 1974) and Il castello dei destini incrociati (1969, 1973; The Castle of Crossed Destinies, 1977). Important in its own right, The Non-Existent Knight takes on added importance when read as a transitional work or, better, the Calvino work that perhaps best embodies the twin sides of his genius: his preoccupation with social themes and his later preoccupation with a more nearly pure literary performance, an art of nonreferentiality. The Non-Existent Knight is so satisfying a work largely because Calvino’s social consciousness and growing love of postmodern playfulness support and deepen each other, proving, as Bradamante and Sister Theodora do as well, the compatibility of apparent opposites.

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