Why Read the Classics?

Why Read the Classics New Memos for the MillenniumItalo Calvino was the Scheherezade of novelists Endlessly inventive suspenseful and exotic he refused to tie things up and conclude Reading Calvino we are like his Mr P

  • Title: Why Read the Classics?
  • Author: Italo Calvino Martin L. McLaughlin
  • ISBN: 9780141189703
  • Page: 160
  • Format: Paperback
  • New Memos for the MillenniumItalo Calvino was the Scheherezade of novelists Endlessly inventive, suspenseful, and exotic, he refused to tie things up and conclude Reading Calvino, we are like his Mr Palomar swimming after the sun s reflection on the water At every stroke of his, it retreats, and never allows him to overtake it Instead, The swimming ego of Mr PalomNew Memos for the MillenniumItalo Calvino was the Scheherezade of novelists Endlessly inventive, suspenseful, and exotic, he refused to tie things up and conclude Reading Calvino, we are like his Mr Palomar swimming after the sun s reflection on the water At every stroke of his, it retreats, and never allows him to overtake it Instead, The swimming ego of Mr Palomar is immersed in a disembodied world, intersections of force fields, vectoral diagrams, bands of position that converge, diverge, break up Calvino s world is a warm, illuminated bath of possibilities One of the multiple narrators of If on a Winter s Night a Traveler has this to say about what Calvino termed multiplicity I m producing too many stories at once because what I want is for you to feel, around the story, a saturation of other stories that I could tell and maybe will tella space full of stories that perhaps is simply my lifetime If on a Winter s Night a Traveler is a book especially reminiscent of the 1001 nights with its ten different novels suspended in the midst of their telling, it is most charming where it ought to be most frustrating But whereas Scheherezade told her Sultan endless stories in order to preserve her life, some of Calvino s best work has been published since his death in 1985 Both Six Memos for the Millennium, a brilliant r sum of his aesthetics, and the novel Mr Palomar were published posthumously The latest English language addition to the Calvino canon is Why Read the Classics ,, a book of literary criticism smoothly translated from the Italian by Martin McLaughlin Why Read the Classics is a collection of occasional pieces reviews and appreciations and cannot be counted among the author s major works, but it brims with Calvino s customary intelligence and lucidity Its title essay is particularly impressive in its offhand way, offering in six pages brio and good sense than 20 years of American culture wars have been able to bring to the same question Calvino offers 14 definitions of a classic The definitions are mordant 1 The classics are those books about which you usually hear people saying I m rereading , and never I m reading but they are also reverent 10 A classic is the term given to any book which comes to represent the whole universe, a book on a par with ancient talismans Still, the great books are not to be read with excessive solemnity It is no use reading classics out of a sense of duty or respect, we should only read them for love As to which books constitute the classics, they are those books to which you cannot remain indifferent The remaining essays of Why Read the Classics give us an idea of which books most affected Calvino himself Of course they also find him celebrating in other authors virtues displayed by his own works the description of Ovid s Metamorphoses could stand at the head of Calvino s Collected Writings Only by accepting into his poem all the tales and the intentions behind them which flow in every direction, pushing and shoving to squeeze them into the ordered ranks of the epic s hexameters, only in this way will the poet be sure of not serving a partial design but the living multiplicity that does not exclude any known or unknown god Ordered ranks is a decisive phrase in this credo Calvino s multiplicity is never a chaos For all their playfulness, If on a Winter s Night a Traveler and Invisible Cities are fuguelike mathematical elaborations In the latter book, Marco Polo often recounts his fantastic travels to Kublai Khan in the language of a scientist Of a city suspended above the earth on stilts, he says There are three hypotheses about the inhabitants of Baucis that they hate the earth that they respect it so much that they avoid all contact that they love it as it was before they existed and with spyglasses and telescopes aimed downward they never tire of examining it, leaf by leaf, stone by stone, ant by ant, contemplating with fascination their own absence Such beautiful writing not only has deservedly become classic in itself, but it exemplifies the classical rhetorical virtues Calvino exalted in his Six Memos for the Next Millennium lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, and multiplicity He does not mention grace, but it is one of the special features of his work that extreme self consciousness about reading and writing becomes, rather than a source of awkwardness, an embodiment of assurance and ease Calvino was at once a metafictionalist, at home in the postmodern welter of possibilities, and someone whom Cicero probably would have read with great pleasure and recognition The publication of Why Read the Classics provides a fine occasion for discovering or returning to Calvino s books as the fresh classics they are Benjamin KunkelBenjamin Kunkel is a freelance writer who lives in New York City.

    One thought on “Why Read the Classics?”

    1. You start your reading of Calvino’s explorations. You do this mainly to get to know a wonderful list of classics to tackle, of the thoughts of a loved author, and to know of how to approach these sometimes daunting works. After the masterful first essay which defines ‘classics’, you realize that Calvino is up to something here. You look at the long list of books and realize that too many of them fall in the invented category of ‘personal classics’ (‘his own classics’ in other words [...]

    2. Italo Calvino, in his Why Read the Classics?, expresses it best:8) A classic does not necessarily teach us anything we did not know before. In a classic we sometimes discover something we have always known (or thought we knew), but without knowing that this author said it first, or at least is associated with it in a special way. And this, too, is a surprise that gives a lot of pleasure, such as we always gain from the discovery of an origin, a relationship, an affinity. From all this we may der [...]

    3. کتاب به شدت خواندنی است. به معنای واقعی کلمه موجب انتقال لذت خواندن آثار کلاسیک به خواننده می شود. اما افسوس و صد افسوس که ترجمه ی بد اثر را در موارد بسیاری نابود کرده است. جمله بندی های نامشخص و جملات تاخوانا به کرات در هر صفحه تکرار می شوند. تعجب انگیز است که ویراستاران اجازه ی [...]

    4. Italo Calvino brilliantly review some most known classics, such as:Odissey by HomerAnabase by XenofanteCyrano de Bergerac by Edmond RostandRobison Crusoe by Daniel DefoeCandide by VoltaireJacques le Fataliste by Denis DiderotLa Chartreuse de Parma by StendhalOur Mutual Friend by DickensDaisy Miller by Henry JamesDoctor Jivago by Boris Pasternakamong many other celebrated authors.

    5. O Italo Calvino que se apreende deste conjunto de textos afigura-se como um agradável senhor com gosto pela leitura. Eu continuo a comprar e a ler livros sobre livros precisamente por faltar no meu quotidiano gente que seja sábia mas bondosa para com a minha ignorância, e disponível q.b. para me dispensar parte de um vasto conhecimento literário. Mas se essa pessoa dissertar longamente sobre autores dos quais nunca ouvi falar e que nada me interessam, ou sobre as diversas traduções e edi [...]

    6. Un classico è un'opera che provoca incessantemente un pulviscolo di discorsi critici su di sé, ma continuamente se li scrolla di dosso. (Calvino).Calvino è, come me, un lettore onnivoro, e il leggere questa raccolta di articoli che ha scritto durante la sua vita è stato arricchente e interessante. Proprio l'anno scorso ho letto un libro simile a questo ma riguardante George Orwell, Letteratura palestra di libertà. Saggi su libri, librerie, scrittori e sigarette. Inutile fare l'elenco degli [...]

    7. Calvino is not only a brilliant author but also an enigmatic bookworm. He weaves his multi-layered logic with the specific authors and books he’s referencing (one author per essay; 36 essays). If one have read the author/book he’s referencing, it’ll add deeper insights/logic of thought. If not read yet, one’ll be encouraged to read that author/book ASAP.Highlights: Ovid and Universal ContiguityCandide, or Concerning Narrative RapidityThe City as Novel in BalzacJorge Luis BorgesThe Philos [...]

    8. کتاب مجموعه ای از مقالات جدا هستش از کالوینو که درباره ی هر کدوم از نویسنده های کلاسیک نوشته. مقالاتشم تو فاصله های زمانی مختلف و جاهای مختلف نوشته و چاپ شده و کتاب درواقع فقط جمع آوری و مرتبشون کرده.کتابی نیست که آدم یک جا بخونه! من خودم فقط مقالات مربوط به نویسنده های خاصیش رو [...]

    9. Le cinque stelle sono obbligatorie per questa raccolta di saggi dedicati ai classici, ad alcuni classici tra i più amati da Italo Calvino.Nonostante la difficoltà incontrata nell'affrontare la lettura di alcuni di essi, ad esempio i saggi su Raymond Queneau di cui conosco solo "Esercizi di stile" e quello su Pasternak e la rivoluzione russa vista attraverso il suo "Dottor Zivago", a Calvino do il merito di avermi fatto venire la voglia prepotente di leggere "Candido" di Voltaire e "La Certosa [...]

    10. No era el libro que esperaba, no pudo decir que es un mal libro por que no lo es solo que a mi no me gustó realmente.El autor hace una breve descripción de algunos autores como Homero y La Odisea y poco a poco habla del libro y un poco de como esta estructurada lo mismo con Tolstoi o Hemingway pero, si bien hace un buen análisis de la obra, no da una verdadera razón de por que leerlos, se limita a solo analizarlos y explicar como están estructurados. En ningún momento dice cosas como "esta [...]

    11. Calvino is somewhat less charming as a literary critic than as a novelist. The introductory essay, "Why Read the Classics?," is an old favorite of mine, and I was glad to revisit it. But from there on out, I was mostly left cold. Granted, I hadn't read most of the books he was discussing-- Ovid, Xenophon, Pavese, Gadda, Montale, certain works by Flaubert-- so I was bound to be a bit less engaged than someone who had read the books in question. But even when I had read them (Stendhal, Homer) I wa [...]

    12. In fairness, let me start by saying I didn't read this cover to cover-- I skipped around and ultimately only read about 2/3 of the content. This is a collection of essays on works that Calvino considered Classic. Many of them are firmly in the English Literature canon, but some of them are little more obscure and unfamiliar. If you know the work being discussed, the observations and theories are particularly interesting, but if you don't it feels a little like showing up for class without having [...]

    13. Interesting book that tours circa 25 of Calvino's must reads. Some very interesting insights into books by some interesting Italian authors/novels like Cesare Pavese, the charterhouse of parma, but also touches some of the greek classics like ovid's metamorphosis and the iliad. Will certainly be buying some of the books recommended in this book.

    14. Questa é una raccolta di saggi scritti da Calvino, in tempi diversi, sul tema dei classici.Il saggio iniziale, omonimo alla raccolta, é breve e di straordinaria attualitá. Consigliabile a un pubblico vastissimo di lettori. Il resto della raccolta propone riflessioni e chiavi di lettura per alcuni dei titoli piú ostici della letteratura e sono consigliabili a un pubblico ben piú ristretto di lettori che vogliano avere Calvino sulla spalla mentre affrontano i fantasmi della letteratura "class [...]

    15. Calvino’nun (çoğu Avrupa’lı) kendisini etkileyen pek çok yazar hakkında yaşamının değişik dönemlerinde kaleme aldığı yorum ve eleştirilerini içeren (ve ölümünden sonra derlenip yayımlanan) bir kitap. Ben aslında iyi yazarların başka iyi yazarlara dair yazdıklarını merak ederim, mümkün mertebe takip etmeye çalışırım. Bu kitabı da bu duygu ve düşüncelerle edindim. Ama --muhtemelen kitapta işlenen çoğu yazarı pek takip etmediğim için-- bu kitabı sevem [...]

    16. In this wonderful collection of short essays, Calvino writes about his favorite literary works, from the forgotten fantastical Medieval epic poem Orlando Furioso, which Calvino describes as a Western pre-cursor to The Arabian Nights, to Stendahl's masterpieces The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma. There are also essays on Joseph Conrad, Mark Twain, and Jorge Louis Borges. The title is a little misleading: Apart from the brief introductory essay, Calvino does not lecture the reader [...]

    17. Perché leggere i classici?=Why Read the Classics?, Italo Calvinoعنوان: چرا باید کلاسیک ها را خواند؛ نویسنده: ایتالو کالوینو؛ مترجم: آزیتا همپارتیان؛ نشر قطرهدر این سیر تاریخی، از «گزنفون» باستانی و نظامی گنجوی، به «ژرژ پرک» معاصر می‌رسیم. عنوان برخی از مقالات درج شده در کتاب: «آسمان، انسان، فیل»؛ «گزید [...]

    18. the first essay 'why read the classics' is reason enough for the rating. but then, I like Calvino the only problem is that i have not read many of these, so my reviews will not exceed borges's reviews of hypothetical books. it is also interesting to read reviews that consider political expression eg hemingway, pasternak

    19. Italo Calvino è un grande intellettuale. Ma è soprattutto un grandissimo bastardo.No, dico: mi tuffo in Perché leggere i classici perché m'ispira, chissà di cosa troverò in questa raccolta di saggi e tu, caro Italo, mi parli di Omero, di Plinio il Vecchio, di Senofonte, di Miguel de Cervantes, Ludovico Ariosto, Nezami, Robert Louis Stevenson, Lev Tolstoj, Joseph Conrad, nonché dei vari Stendhal, Dickens, Balzac, Pasternak, Twain etc. con tale passione!!! Come faccio io a non rimpinguare l [...]

    20. I did not read every page of this collection of essays, but only for the best of reasons. Calvino gives each classic in such enticing life, and I so often had to put aside his commentary because it too successfully made me want to read the book itself. My "ideal library" has expanded substantially through this reading, and that is a gift indeed. Additionally, the opening essay, from which the collection takes its name, is one of the finest and most enjoyable bits of theory I've encountered. I'll [...]

    21. Kitabın adını "Klasikler Nasıl Okunmalı? şeklinde değiştirmeyi öneriyorum. Zira Italo Calvino seçki içinde ele aldığı kitapları yazarların anlatımdaki güçlü yönlerini ele alarak ayrıca kitapların konu, dil ve dünya edebiyatındaki yeri açısında layıkıyla okuyor. Kitap üzerine kaleme alınmış bir yazı şurada. birguloguz/201

    22. Calvino começa dando definições do que é um clássico e conclui: 1. “Clássicos são aqueles livros dos quais, em geral, se ouve dizer: ‘estou relendo’ e nunca ‘Estou lendo’.” 2. “Toda primeira leitura de uma clássico é na realidade uma releitura.” Essas são algumas das propostas de definição – no geral são 14.Depois disso o leitor encontra uma série de pequenos ensaios sobre autores que Calvino considera essenciais para o alimento do espírito. Gente como Homero, Xe [...]

    23. Italo Calvino is my favorite author: I love the elegant lightness of his writing style, and the way he can be refreshing and original even when he deals with the most difficult topics. Some authors become like friends, and for me Calvino is a sort of 'uncle'. Imagine what happens when an author you consider a friend talks about those books that you read and reread -- those books that have been with you in an important phase of your life, and that even after years are like family members you want [...]

    24. Estaba esperando a leerme todos los textos de los que habla Calvino para poder terminar me todos los ensayos pero no tengo tiempo para ese proyecto. Me he leído unos 3/4 de los ensayos, todos los que hablan de autores u obras que he leído. La introducción es magistral, da una definición perfecta de lo que es un clásico. Los ensayos son interesantes y dan una visión que no es la típica. Me hubiera gustado que los clásicos de los que habla hubieran sido más famosos pero en general muy rec [...]

    25. This work is a collection of essays, some unique to this book, in which Calvino writes what he loves most about his favorite classic works of fiction. It will definitely get you excited to go read many of them (m any are Italian works that I'm not familiar with). But reading the string of essays, absent reading the works themselves, gets a little old. I'd recommend the individual essays in conjunction with the work they cover more than the book itself.

    26. Un libro da leggere più e più volte, in diversi momenti della propria vita e della propria formazione, per poter apprezzare al meglio gli autori e le opere che Calvino analizza in questo libro, mettendoci tutto l'amore che ha per la letteratura. Bellissimo.

    27. 5* for the first chapter and the chapter on Hemingway and Borges. The bits about the joys of learning poetry and the rear view mirrors were great too.

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