Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941–1985 by Martin McLaughlin (translated) - review by Robert Gordon

Robert Gordon

The Reluctant Autobiographer

Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941–1985


Princeton University Press 632pp £27.95

Over the last decade or so, Italo Calvino has faded somewhat from the very front rank of the contemporary literary pantheon, his reputation no longer as glittering as it once was, when Salman Rushdie and Gore Vidal sang his praises and he seemed almost to rival Borges as a literary fantasist and inventor. In the same period, however, the foundations of a longer-term reputation in the English-speaking world have been laid down with great care in a series of new publications and revised translations, overseen by Martin McLaughlin. This Princeton edition of his letters, selected from the Italian edition of 2000 and impeccably translated and annotated by McLaughlin, is the latest stage in this admirable enterprise.

Calvino was active as a novelist in Italy for nearly forty years, from the mid-1940s through to his sudden death in his early sixties in 1985. In that arc of a career, as he relished pointing out, he passed through and tried on for size such a gamut of styles

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