Labyrinth celebrates the first collection in English of the extraordinary letters of one of the great writers of the 20th century with a conversation between Michael Wood, who selected and introduced these letters, and Calvino's daughter, Giovanna Calvino. Please join us.
Italy's most important postwar novelist, Italo Calvino achieved worldwide fame with such books as Cosmicomis, Invisible Cities, and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. But he was also an influential literary critic, an important literary editor, and a masterful letter writer whose correspondents included Umberto Eco, Primo Levi, Gore Vidal, Leonardo Sciascia, Natalia Ginzburg, Michelangelo Antonioni, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Luciano Berio. This book includes a generous selection of about 650 letters, written between World War II and the end of Calvino's life.
The letters are filled with insights into Calvino's writing and that of others, and into culture and politics. They also provide a kind of autobiography, documenting Calvino's Communism and his resignation from the party in 1957, his eye-opening trip to the US in 1959, his move to Paris, and his trip to his birthplace in Cuba (where he met Che Guevara). Some lengthy letters amount almost to critical essays, while one is an appropriately brief defense of brevity, and there is an even shorter, reassuring note to his parents written on a scrap of paper while he and his brother were in hiding during the antifascist Resistance.
Michael Wood is professor of emeritus of English and comparative literature at Princeotn University. He has written books on Bunuel, Kafka, Nabokov, and Garcia Marquez, and is the author of a study of the ancient and continuing allure of oracles. Among his other works are America in the Movies, Literature and the Taste of Knowledge, Children of Silence, and Yeats and Violence. Wood is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books and the NY Review of Books. Giovanna Calvino is an adjunct professor of Italian and comparative literature at New York University. She produced Futurist evenings and other unruly literary events at Princeton, The Cooper Union and Off-off-Broadway.