As written elsewhere (Cat. Nr. 46) this book is an important guide, one of a few, for the work at the Museum. "Italo Calvino gave us a small vademecum, so that the world, with its old age, its problems and anxieties, does not find us not prepared": writes Gian Carlo Roscioni on of the flap of the book.
The book contains text for five of six lessons that Italo Calvino was invited to give at Harvard University in 1985- 1986. He died before leaving for Harvard and before having written the sixth lesson on "Consistency".
The lessons deal with qualities of literature that Calvino wants to carry into the third millenium. He is optimistic about the future of literature because "there are things that only literature, with its specific means, can give."
It is however impossible to escape from the idea that these qualities also pertain to everything else: energy, society, life, ....
At the end of the book, in the chapter on "Multiplicity" he writes:
"I have come at the end of my description of the novel as a huge network. One will object that the more the novel tends at multiplying possibilities, the more it will move away from the unique self of the author, his sincere interiority, the discovery of his own truth. But I want to reply as follows: is each of us not a combination of experiences, of information of what we read and imagine? Each life is an encyclopedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a catalogue of styles where everything can continuously be re-mixed e re-ordered in all possible ways.
But maybe the answer that I really like to give is this one: maybe a novel can be written outside the self, a novel that gets us out of our own individual perspective, not to see things from other perspectives similar to ours, but to give a voice to those things that don't have one: the bird that rests on a gutter, the tree during spring and the tree during autumn, stones, concrete, plastics, ..." (Translation: MAT).
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