Why Read the Classics?

Front Cover
Vintage Books, 2000 - Literary Collections - 277 pages
3 Reviews
Why read the classics? Not out of a sense of duty or respect, argues Italo Calvino. Rather, we should only read them for love. Thus these thirty-six essays on literature--most of them never gathered in book form before--cover Calvino's own favorites, his personal classics. This is not the arid and arcane criticism of academia but rather the vibrant and accessible thought of one of this century's most breathtakingly innovative writers. Whether he's discussing how many odysseys are in The Odyssey, or the way Dicken's later novels foreshadow Beckett, he's always acutely insightful. Whether he's contemplating the censorship of Twain's books by Twain's own wife, or Pliny's belief that the elephant is the mammal spiritually closest to man, he's always freshly entertaining. And whether he's portraying Cyrano de Bergerac's work as the forerunner of science fiction, or the character of Lara as the true center of Dr. Zhivago, he's always dauntingly smart and original. From the Persian folk tale writer Nezami to Henry James, from Ariosto to Hemingway to Montale, Calvino's subjects are remarkably wide-ranging, and the delightful erudition and infectious enthusiasm of his essays prove that the world's most fascinating writers also tend to be the world's most fascinating readers. -- Back cover.

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User Review  - RussellBittner - LibraryThing

It’s always a somewhat humbling experience to read a book like this one — at least for me. But why ‘humbling?’ Because reading it reminds me of how little I really know about classical literature. As ... Read full review

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User Review  - RandyMetcalfe - LibraryThing

There is something fascinating in a great writer’s observations of the literature in which he is immersed. Might they reveal clues to his own prowess, or ogres against which he long strove? These ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)

Italo Calvino died in 1985.

Translated from the Italian by Martin McLaughlin.

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