Filho de italianos, ainda menino, mudou-se com a famнlia para a Itбlia. Passou a infвncia e a adolescкncia em San Remo. Militou no Partido Comunista e participou da resistкncia ao Fascismo de Mussolini. Ao se mudar para Paris, em , Calvino foi duramente criticado em seu paнs. Primeiro por ter deixado a Itбlia e abandonado o comunismo, segundo por ter optado pelo caminho literбrio do realismo fantбstico, uma corrente excessivamente excкntrica para seus ex-colegas de credo polнtico.
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Beguiling, enchanting, quizzical; if retold in twenty pages as a Brothers Grim-style fairy tale, The Nonexistent Knight could instantly become a classic for all ages. The literary magic on display in The Nonexistent Knight is nothing short of breathtaking.
We are in the time of Charlemagne during the war with the Turks and the central figure in the tale is a knight in shinning white armor by the name of Agilulf. In the opening chapter, when passing inspection on leaders of his army, Emperor Charlemagne exclaims, "This is too much! No doubt about it, Agilulf is one knotty knight. So I keep wide awake every second of the day and night.
No sleep for Agilulf. We humans thrive on sleep, especially the restful state of deep, dreamless sleep. In his current condition of nonexistence, even if for one instant Agilulf surrenders to the selfless state of sleep, Agilulf risks losing whatever nonexistent existence he has. Poor knight! Alas, we are not reading a philosophic treatise in the field of ontology or metaphysics but a tale of the fantastic written by none other than Italo Calvino.
Little does this young man know where his adventures will take him. Hint: many the time his path crosses that of the knight in shinning white armor. We first meet Gurduloo waddling along, a duck among ducks in his earthen color rags. But then again, not so fast: we have the paradox of the wise fool.
Brandamante: Bold, courage, accomplished knight who just so happens to be a woman. This female warrior is none too pleased with all the "regular" knights she thinks are nothing but a bunch of louts, nincompoops and slobs.
But there is that one knight who alone knows the secret geometry, the order, the rule, by which to bestow sense to her every action, nay, to her very life itself.
Agilulf to the rescue! Well, maybe. Even now and again I notice my pen beginning to hurry over the paper as if by itself, with my hurrying along after it. The interplay of knightly action and the act of writing gives The Nonexistent Knight a touch of the metafictional, a small preview of what Italo Calvino would develop in his famous novel alternating story with the act of reading a book.
Torrismund, Sophronia, Palmyra: Three more players whose ultimate identity I will leave to each reader to discover. One can almost not believe how Italo Calvino has those idealized champions behave. Coda: Italo Calvino chose the above Picasso drawing to illustrate the cover for the first published edition of The Nonexistent Knight.
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