Italo Calvino


Italo Calvino Quotes

  • ''Biographical data, even those recorded in the public registers, are the most private things one has, and to declare them openly is rather like facing a psychoanalyst.''
    Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Italian novelist, critic. Essay collected in The Literature Machine (1987). Grand Bazaar (Milan, September-October 1980).
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  • ''The catalogue of forms is endless: until every shape has found its city, new cities will continue to be born. When the forms exhaust their variety and come apart, the end of cities begins.''
    Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Italian author, critic. Invisible Cities (1972, trans. 1974).
  • ''Traveling, you realize that differences are lost: each city takes to resembling all cities, places exchange their form, order, distances, a shapeless dust cloud invades the continents.''
    Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Italian author, critic. Marco Polo, in Invisible Cities, p. 137 (1972, trans. 1974).
  • ''It is not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear.''
    Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Italian author, critic. Marco Polo, in Invisible Cities, p. 135 (1972, trans. 1974).
  • ''When politicians and politically minded people pay too much attention to literature, it is a bad sign—a bad sign mostly for literature.... But it is also a bad sign when they don't want to hear the word mentioned.''
    Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Italian author, critic. Lecture, February 1976, delivered at Amherst College, Massachusetts. "Right and Wrong Political Uses of Literature," published in The Literature Machine (1987).
  • ''We could say, then, that man is an instrument the world employs to renew its own image constantly.''
    Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Italian author, critic. repr. In The Literature Machine (1987). Saul Steinberg, Still Life and Architecture, introduction (1982).
  • ''I am prisoner of a gaudy and unlivable present, where all forms of human society have reached an extreme of their cycle and there is no imagining what new forms they may assume.''
    Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Italian author, critic. "The Great Khan," pp. 135-136, Invisible Cities (1972, trans. 1974).
  • ''Novels as dull as dishwater, with the grease of random sentiments floating on top.''
    Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Italian author, critic. repr. In The Literature Machine (1987). "The Novel as Spectacle," Il Giorno (Milan, Oct. 14, 1970).
  • ''A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.''
    Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Italian author, critic. repr. In The Literature Machine (1987). "Why Read the Classics?" L'Espresso (Rome, June 28, 1981). This is one of a series of definitions of "a classic" in Calvino's essay.

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