Calvino Quotes

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Quotes About Calvino

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#1. New York is a fabled city, a fabulous city. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#2. I lowered my hands to try to save from disorder the arrangement of the tleaves and flowers; meanwhile, she was also dealing with the branches, leaning forward; and so it happened that at the very moment when one of my hands slipped in confusion between Madame Miyagi's kimono and her bare skin and found itself clasping a soft and warm breast, elongated in form, one of the lady's hands, from among the branches keiyaki [translator's note: in Europe called Caucasian elm], had reached my member and was holding it in a firm, frank grasp, drawing it from my garments as if she were performing the operation of stripping away leaves. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#3. The fact is that I find in the day's light, in this diffused, pale, almost shadowless luminosity, a darkness deeper than the night's. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#4. List of Artists Who Created Fantasy Worlds to Try and Cure Bouts of Sadness
1. Italo Calvino
2. Gabriel Garcia Marquez
3. Jim Henson and Jorge Luis Borges - Labyrinths
4. The creator of MySpace
5. Richard Brautigan
6. J.K. Rowling
7. The inventor of the children's toy Lite-Brite
8. Ann Sexton
9. David Foster Wallace
10. Gaugin and the Caribbean
11. Charles Schulz
12. Liam Rector - Author: Shane Jones
Calvino quotes by Shane Jones
#5. Thus the city repeats its life, identical, shifting up and down on its empty chessboard. The inhabitants repeat the same scenes, with the acton changed; they repeat the same speeches with variously combined accents; they open alternate mouths in identical yawns. Alone, among all the cities of the empire, Eutropia remains always the same. Mercury, god of the fickle, to whom the city is sacred, worked this ambiguous miracle. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#6. Each new Clarice, compact as a living body with its smells and its breath, shows off, like a gem, what remains of the ancient Clarices, fragmentary and dead. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#7. What matters is not the enclosure of the work within a harmonious figure, but the centrifugal force produced by it
a plurality of language as a guarantee of a truth that is not merely partial. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#8. I am the man who comes and goes between the bar and the telephone booth. Or, rather:that man is called 'I' and you know nothing else about him, just as this station is called only 'station' and beyond it there exists nothing except the unanswered signal of a telephone ringing in a dark room of a distant city. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#9. He knows it is a city, but he thinks of it as a camel from whose pack hang wineskins and bags of candies fruit, date wine, tobacco leaves, and already he sees himself as the head of a long caravan taking him away from the desert of the sea, toward oases of fresh water in the palm trees' jagged shade, toward palaces of thick, whitewashed walls, tiled courts where girls are dancing barefoot, moving their arms, half-hidden by their veils, half-revealed. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#10. Maybe you have to become a mother to get to the real sense of everything. Or a prostitute. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#11. We [ with Italo Calvino] had a great relationship. I don't think it's a coincidence that his only daughter's name is Giovanna. I loved his book dedications to me: "To Giovanna Cau, another book that won't be turned into a movie." - Author: Giovanna Cau
Calvino quotes by Giovanna Cau
#12. A classic is a book which with each rereading offers as much of a sense of discovery as the first reading. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#13. Perhaps, Kublai thought, the empire is nothing but a zodiac of the mind's phantasms. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#14. Yet, even now, ever time (often) that I find that I don't understand something, then instinctively, I'm filled with the hope that perhaps this will be my moment again, perhaps once again I shall understand nothing, I shall grasp that other knowledge, found and lost in an instant. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#15. Sections in the bookstore

- Books You Haven't Read
- Books You Needn't Read
- Books Made for Purposes Other Than Reading
- Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong to the Category of Books Read Before Being Written
- Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered
- Books You Mean to Read But There Are Others You Must Read First
- Books Too Expensive Now and You'll Wait 'Til They're Remaindered
- Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback
- Books You Can Borrow from Somebody
- Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too
- Books You've Been Planning to Read for Ages
- Books You've Been Hunting for Years Without Success
- Books Dealing with Something You're Working on at the Moment
- Books You Want to Own So They'll Be Handy Just in Case
- Books You Could Put Aside Maybe to Read This Summer
- Books You Need to Go with Other Books on Your Shelves
- Books That Fill You with Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified
- Books Read Long Ago Which It's Now Time to Re-read
- Books You've Always Pretended to Have Read and Now It's Time to Sit Down and Really Read Them - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#16. And yet, in Raissa, at every moment there is a child in a window who laughs seeing a dog that has jumped on a shed to bite into a piece of polenta dropped by a stonemason who has shouted from the top of the scaffolding, "Darling, let me dip into it," to a young servant-maid who holds up a dish of ragout under the pergola, happy to serve it to the umbrella-maker who is celebrating a successful transaction, a white lace parasol bought to display at the races by a great lady in love with an officer who has smiled at her taking the last jump, happy man, and still happier his horse, flying over the obstacles, seeing a francolin flying in the sky, happy bird freed from its cage by a painter happy at having painted it feather by feather, speckled with red and yellow in the illumination of that page in the volume where the philosopher says: "Also in Raissa, city of sadness, there runs an invisible thread that binds one living being to another for a moment, then unravels, then is stretched again between moving points as it draws new and rapid patterns so that at every second the unhappy city contains a happy city unaware of its own existence. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#17. Sometimes one who thinks himself incomplete is merely young. - Italo Calvino - Author: Kevin Brockmeier
Calvino quotes by Kevin Brockmeier
#18. I knew that signs also allow others to judge the one who makes them, and that in the course of a galactic year tastes and ideas have time to change, and the way of regarding the earlier ones depends on what comes afterwards; in short, I was afraid a sign that now might seem perfect to me, in two hundred or six hundred million years would make me look absurd. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#19. Sometimes I try to concentrate on the story I would like to write, and I realize that what interests me is something else entirely, or, rather, not anything precise but everything that does not fit in what I ought to write. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#20. In the midst of a thick forest, there was a castle that gave shelter to all travelers overtaken by night on their journey: lords and ladies, royalty and their retinue, humble wayfarers. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#21. Leave me like this. I have come full circle and I understand. The world must be read backward. All is clear. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#22. The people who move through the streets are all strangers. At each encounter, they imagine a thousand things about one another; meetings which could take place between them, conversations, surprises, caresses, bites. But no one greets anyone; eyes lock for a second, then dart away, seeking other eyes, never stopping ... something runs among them, an exchange of glances like lines that connect one figure with another and draw arrows, stars, triangles, until all combinations are used up in a moment, and other characters come on to the scene ... - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#23. From this arid sphere every discourse and every poem sets forth; and every journey
through forests, battles, treasures, banquets, bedchambers, brings us back here, to the center
of an empty horizon. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#24. Though I leave the house as little as possible, I have the impression that someone is disturbing my papers. More than once I have discovered that some pages were missing from my manuscripts. A few days afterward I would find the pages in their place again. But often I no longer recognize my manuscripts, as if I had forgotten what I had written, or as if overnight I were so changed that no longer recognized myself in the self of yesterday. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#25. Every time I must find something to do that will look like something a little beyond my capabilities. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#26. A publishing house is a fragile organism, dear sir," he says. "If at any point something goes askew, then the disorder spreads, chaos opens beneath our feet. Forgive me, won't you? When I think about it I have an attack of vertigo." And he covers his eyes, as if pursued by the sight of billions of pages, lines, words, whirling in a dust storm. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#27. I thought: "Perhaps Adelma is the city where you arrive dying and where each finds again the people he has known. This means I, too, am dead." And I also thought: "This means the beyond is not happy. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#28. I spend 12 hours a day reading on most days of the year. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#29. A quarter of America is a dramatic, tense, violent country, exploding with contradictions, full of brutal, physiological vitality, and that is the America that I have really loved and love. But a good half of it is a country of boredom, emptiness, monotony, brainless production, and brainless consumption, and this is the American inferno. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#30. As a matter of fact, we had already been warned against sliding down the marble banisters, not out of fear that we might break a leg or an arm, for that never worried our parents-which was, I think, why we never broke anything-but because they feared that since we were growing up and gaining weight, we might knock over the busts of ancestors placed by our father on the banisters at the turn of every flight of stairs. Cosimo had, in fact, once brought down a bishop, a great-great-great-grandfather, miter and all; lie was punished, and since then he had learned to brake just before reaching the turn of a flight and jump off within a hair's-breadth of running into a bust. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#31. The satirist is prevented by repulsion from gaining a better knowledge of the world he is attracted to, yet he is forced by attraction to concern himself with the world that repels him. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#32. I'm accustomed to thinking of literature as a search for knowledge; in order to move onto existential terrain I need to consider it in relation to anthropology, ethnology, and mythology. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#33. No, memory is true as long as you do not set it, as long as it is not enclosed in a form. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#34. Instead of making myself write the book I ought to write, the novel that was expected of me, I conjured up the book I myself would have liked to read, the sort by an unknown writer, from another age and another country, discovered in an attic. ITALO CALVINO - Author: Salman Rushdie
Calvino quotes by Salman Rushdie
#35. One writes fables in periods of oppression. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#36. The novel begins in a railway station, a locomotive huffs, steam from a piston covers the opening of the chapter, a cloud of smoke hides part of the first paragraph. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#37. The beautiful unruliness of literature is what makes it so much fun to wander through: you read Jane Austen and you say, oh, that is IT. And then you turn around and read Sterne, and you say, Man, that is IT. And then you wander across a century or so, and you run into Kafka, or Calvino, or Cortazar, and you say, well that is IT. And then you stroll through what Updike called the grottos of Ulysses, and after that you consort with Baldwin or Welty or Spencer, or Morrison, or Bellow or Fitzgerald and then back to W. Shakespeare, Esq; the champ, and all the time you feel the excitement of being in the presence of IT. And when you yourself spend the good time writing, you are not different in kind than any of these people, you are part of that miracle of human invention. So get to work. Get on with IT, no matter how difficult IT is. Every single gesture, every single stumble, every single uninspired-feeling hour, is worth IT. Richard Bausch - Author: Kathy Fish
Calvino quotes by Kathy Fish
#38. Recurrent invasions racked the city of Theodora in the centuries of its history; no sooner was one enemy routed than another gained strength and threatened the survival of the inhabitants. When the sky was cleared of condors, they had to face the propagation of serpents; the spiders' extermination allowed the flies to multiply into a black swarm; the victory over the termites left the city at the mercy of the woodworms. One by one the species incompatible to the city had to succumb and were extinguished. By dint of ripping away scales and carapaces, tearing off elytra and feathers, the people gave Theodora the exclusive image of human city that still distinguishes it. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#39. When the olfactory alphabet, which made them so many words in a precious lexicon, is forgotten, perfumes will be left speechless, inarticulate, illegible. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#40. At this point we must remind ourselves that the idea that the world is made up of weightless atoms surprises us because we have experienced the weight of things. Similarly, we could not admire the lightness of language if we had not also learned to admire language endowed with weight. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#41. I felt in harmony with the disharmony of others, myself, and the world. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#42. You explode, if that's more to your taste, shoot yourself all around in endless darts, be prodigal, spendthrift, reckless: I shall implode, collapse inside the abyss of myself, towards my buried centre, infinitely. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#43. There: the white butterfly has crossed the whole valley, and from the reader's book has flown here, to light on the page I am writing. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#44. I would very much like to be one of those writers who have something really clear in their head to say, and throughout their life they promote this idea in their works. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#45. Try to foresee now everything that might make you interrupt your reading. Cigarettes within reach, if you smoke, and the ashtray. Anything else? Do you have to pee? All right, you know best. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#46. Or else the cloud hovered, having barely left the lips, dense and slow, and suggested another vision: the exhalations that hang over the roofs of the metropolises, the opaque smoke that is not scattered, the hood of miasmata that weighs over the bituminous streets. Not the labile mists of memory nor the dry transparence, but the charring of burned lives that forms a scab on the city, the sponge swollen with vital matter that no longer flows, the jam of past, present, future that blocks existences calcified in the illusion of movement: this is what you would find at the end of your journey. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#47. There was a town where everything was forbidden.

Now, since the only thing that wasn't forbidden was the game tip-cat, the town's subjects used to assemble on meadows behind the town and spend the day there playing tip-cat.

And as the laws forbidding things had been introduced one at a time and always with good reason, no one found any cause for complaint or had any trouble getting used to them.

Years passed. One day the constables saw that there was no longer any reason why everything should be forbidden and they sent messengers to inform their subjects that they could do whatever they wanted.

The messengers went to those places where the subjects were wont to assemble.

'Hear ye, hear ye,' they announced, 'nothing is forbidden any more.'

The people went on playing tip-cat.

'Understand?' the messengers insisted. 'You are free to do what you want.'

'Good,' replied the subjects. 'We're playing tip-cat.'

The messengers busily reminded them of the many wonderful and useful occupations they had once engaged in and could now engage in once again. But the subjects wouldn't listen and just went on playing, stroke after stroke, without even stopping for a breather.

Seeing that their efforts were in vain, the messengers went to tell the constables.

'Easy,' the constables said. 'Let's forbid the game of tip-cat.'

That was when the people rebelled and killed - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#48. If I love order, it's not the mark of a character subjected to an inner discipline, a repression of the instincts. In me the idea of an absolutely regular world, symmetrical and methodical, is associated with that first impulse and burgeoning of nature.
The rest of your images that associate passion with disorder, love with intemperate overflow - river fire whirlpool volcano - are for me memories of nothingness and listlessness and boredom. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#49. His trees were now hung all over with scrawled pieces of paper and bits of cardboard with maxims from Seneca and Shaftesbury, and with various objects; clusters of feathers, church candles, crowns of leaves, women's corsets, pistols, scales, tied to each other in certain order. The Ombrosians used to spend hours trying to guess what those symbols meant: nobles, Pope, virtue, war? I think some of them had no meaning at all but just served to jog his memory and make him realize that even the most uncommon ideas could be right. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#50. Those who arrive at Thekla can see little of the city, beyond the plank fences, the sackcloth screens, the scaffoldings, the metal armatures, the wooden catwalks hanging from ropes or supported by sawhorses, the ladders, the trestles. If you ask, "Why is Thekla's construction taking such a long time?" the inhabitants continue hoisting sacks, lowering leaded strings, moving long brushes up and down, as they answer, "So that its destruction cannot begin. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#51. At times I am gripped by an absurd desire: that the sentence I am about to write be the one the woman is reading at that same moment. The idea mesmerizes me so much that I convince myself it is true: I write the sentence hastily, get up, go to the window, train my spyglass to check the effect of my sentence in her gaze, in the curl of her lips, in the cigarette she lights, in the shifts of her body in the deck chair, in her legs, which she crosses or extends. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#52. What is modern art but the attempt to pinpoint vague, incorporeal, inexpressible sensations? What is modern art, I would add, but the most solemn pile of nonsense that ever appeared on Earth? - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#53. Now you mustn't think that I don't have any ideas for novels in my head. I've got ideas for ten novels in my head. But with every idea I have, I already foresee the wrong novels I would write, because I also have critical ideas in my head; I've got a full theory of the perfect novel, and that's what stumps me. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#54. Reading is going toward something that is about to be, and no one yet knows what it will be. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#55. The lives of individuals of the human race form a constant plot, in which every attempt to isolate one piece of living that has a meaning separate from the rest-for example, the meeting of two people, which will become decisive for both-must bear in mind that each of the two brings with himself a texture of events, environments, other people, and that from the meeting, in turn, other stories will be derived which will break off from their common story. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#56. In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city's life, inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or gray or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationship of blood, of trade, authority, agency. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses are dismantled. - Italo Calvino - Author: Siddhartha Mukherjee
Calvino quotes by Siddhartha Mukherjee
#57. The public figure of the writer, the writer-character, the 'personality-cult' of the author, are all becoming for me more and more intolerable in others, and consequently in myself. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#58. The best introduction to the psychological world of one of the most important and gifted writers of our time. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#59. My university work was not central to my education. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#60. She said ... she said don't be scared, we wasn't born to be all the time scared, we was born happy, babies laugh at everything, we was born happy and to make a better world. - Author: Dean Koontz
Calvino quotes by Dean Koontz
#61. With cities, it is as if with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#62. It is always about themselves that the living ask, not about those who are to come. One man is concerned with leaving behind him an illustrious reputation, another wants his shame to be forgotten; all would like to follow the thread of their own actions' consequences; but - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#63. Despina can be reached in two ways: by ship or by camel. The city displays one face to the traveler arriving overland and a different one to him who arrives by sea.

When the camel driver sees, at the horizon of the tableland, the pinnacles of the skyscrapers come into view, the radar antennae, the white and red wind-socks flapping, the chimneys belching smoke, he thinks of a ship; he knows it is a city, but he thinks of it as a vessel that will take him away from the desert, a windjammer about to cast off, with the breeze already swelling the sails, not yet unfurled, or a steamboat with its boiler vibrating in the iron keel; and he thinks of all the ports, the foreign merchandise the cranes unload on the docks, the taverns where crews of different flags break bottles over one another's heads, the lighted, ground-floor windows, each with a woman combing her hair.

In the coastline's haze, the sailor discerns the form of a camel's withers, an embroidered saddle with glittering fringe between two spotted humps, advancing and swaying; he knows it is a city, but he thinks of it as a camel from whose pack hang wine-skins and bags of candied fruit, date wine, tobacco leaves, and already he sees himself at the head of a long caravan taking him away from the desert of the sea, toward oases of fresh water in the palm trees' jagged shade, toward palaces of thick, whitewashed walls, tiled courts where girls are dancing barefoot, moving their arms, half-hidden by thei - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#64. That's the good thing about being halved. One understands the sorrow of every person and thing in the world at its own incompleteness. I was whole and did not understand, and moved about deaf and unfeeling amid the pain and sorrow all round us, in places where as a whole person one would least think to find it. It's not only me ... who am a split being, but you and everyone else too. Now I have a fellowship which I did not understand, did not know before, when whole, a fellowship with all the mutilated and incomplete things in the world. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#65. I write by hand, making many, many corrections. I would say I cross out more than I write. I have to hunt for words when I speak, and I have the same difficulty when writing. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#66. Who are we, if not a combination of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopaedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly reshuffled and reordered in every conceivable way. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#67. To explode or to implode – said Qfwfq – that is the question: whether 'tis nobler in the mind to expand one's energies in space without restraint, or to crush them into a dense inner concentration. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#68. They rebuild Ersilia elsewhere. They weave a similar pattern of strings which they would like to be more complex and at the same time more regular than the other. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#69. It sometimes seems to me that a pestilence has struck the human race in its most distinctive faculty - that is, the use of words. It is a plague afflicting language, revealing itself as a loss of cognition and immediacy, an automatism that tends to level out all expression into the most generic, anonymous, and abstract formulas, to dilute meaning, to blunt the edge of expressiveness, extinguishing the sparks that shoots out from the collision of words and new circumstances. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#70. From my words you will have reached the conclusion that the real Berenice is a temporal succession of different cities, alternately just and unjust. But what I wanted to warn you about is something else: all the future Berenices are already present in this instant, wrapped one within the other, confined, crammed, inextricable. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#71. It is not true what everyone always says that the only way to see America is to go across it by car. Apart from the fact that it is impossible given its enormous size, it is also deadly boring. A few outings on the motorway are enough to give an idea of what small-town and even village America is like on average, with the endless suburbs along the highways, a sight of desperate squalor, with all those low buildings, petrol stations or other shops which look like them, and the colours of the writing on the shop signs, and you realize 95 per cent of America is a country of ugliness, oppressiveness and sameness, in short of relentless monotony. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#72. Grown-ups are an untrustworthy, treacherous lot, they don't take their games in the serious wholehearted way children do, and yet they too have their own games, one more serious than the other, one game inside another, so that it's impossible to discover what the real one is. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#73. I have also thought of a model city from which all possible cities can be deduced," Marco answered. "It is a city made only of exceptions, exclusions, incongruities, contradictions. If such a city is the most improbable, by reducing the number of abnormal elements, we increase the probability that the city really exists. So I have only to subtract exceptions from my model, and in whatever direction I proceed, I will arrive at one of the cities which, always as an exception, exist. But I cannot force my operation beyond a certain limit: I would achieve cities too probable to be real. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#74. Literature remains alive only if we set ourselves immeasurable goals, far beyond all hope of achievement. Only if poets and writers set themselves tasks that no one else dares imagine will literature continue to have a function. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#75. A stone, a figure, a sign, a word reaching us isolated from its context is only that stone, figure, sign, or word: we can try to define them, to describe them as they are, and no more than that; whether, beside the face they show us, they also have a hidden face, is not for us to know. The refusal to comprehend more than what the stones show us is perhaps the only way to evince respect for their secret; trying to guess is a presumption, a betrayal of that true, lost meaning. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#76. Yell: "I'm beginning to read Italo Calvino's new novel!" Or if you prefer, don't say anything; just hope they'll leave you alone. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#77. The living of Laudomia frequent the house of the unborn to interrogate them: footsteps echo beneath the hollow domes; the questions are asked in silence; and it is always about themselves that the living ask, not about those who are to come. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#78. Reader, what are you doing? Aren't you going to resist? Aren't you going to escape? Ah, you are participating ... Ah, you fling yourself into it, too ... You're the absolute protagonist of this book, very well; but do you believe that gives you the right to have carnal relations with all the female characters? Like this, without any preparation..? - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#79. The Society for the Implementation of Christmas Consumption has launched a campaign to push the Destructive Gift!" (...) "The important thing (...) is that the Destructive Gift serves to destroy articles of every sort: just what's needed to speed up the pace of consumption and give the market a boost... - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#80. Nobody these days holds the written word in such high esteem as police states do. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#81. Hey live for each other; their eyes are interlocked but there is not love between them. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#82. An archer, the moment he thinks he's experienced, is lost; every lion we encounter in our brief life is different from every other lion; woe to us if we stop to make comparisons, to deduce our movements from norms and premises. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#83. The line between the reality that is photographed because it seems beautiful to us and the reality that seems beautiful because it has been photographed is very narrow. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#84. KUBLAI: I do not know when you have had time to visit all the countries you describe to me. It seems to me you have never moved from this garden.
POLO: Everything I see and do assumes meaning in a mental space where the same calm reigns as here, the same penumbra, the same silence streaked by the rustling of learn. At the moment when I concentrate and reflect, I find myself again, always, in this garden, at this hour of the evening, in your august presence. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#85. At times I feel your voice is reaching me from far away, while I am prisoner of a gaudy and unlivable present, when all forms of human society have reached an extreme of their cycle and there is no imagining what new forms they may assume. And I hear, from your voice, the invisible reasons which make cities live, through which perhaps, once dead, they will come to life again. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#86. No one, wise Kublai, knows better than you that the city must never be confused with the words that describe it. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#87. Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased," Polo said. "Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#88. I look through the spaces between the iron steps at the colorless flow of the river down below, transporting chunks of ice like white clouds. In a distress that lasts an instant, I seem to be feeling what she feels: that every void continues in the void, every gap, even a short one opens another gap, every chasm empties into the infinite abyss. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#89. I haven't said it yet, but it seemed implied, that cinema for me was the American one, current Hollywood productions. "My" period goes roughly from The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (Henry Hathaway, 1935) with Gary Cooper and Mutiny on the Bounty (Frank Lloyd, 1935) with Charles Laughton and Clark Gable, to the death of Jean Harlow (which I relived many years later like the death of Marilyn Monroe, in an era more aware of the neurotic power of every symbol), with lots of comedies in between, the mystery-romances with Myrna Loy and William Powell and the dog Asta, the musicals of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the crime pictures of Chinese detective Charlie Chan and the horror films of Boris Karloff. I didn't remember the names of the directors as well as the names of the actors, except for a few like Frank Capra, Gregory La Cava, and Frank Borzage, who represented the poor rather than the millionaires, usually with Spencer Tracy: they were the good-natured directors from the Roosevelt era; I learned this later; back then I consumed everything without distinguishing between them too much. American cinema in that moment consisted of a collection of actors' faces without equal before or after (at least it seemed that way to me) and the adventures were simple mechanisms to get these faces together (sweethearts, character actors, extras) in different combinations. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#90. ... Marco's answers and objections took their place in a discourse already proceeding on its own, in the Great Khan's head. That is to say, between the two of them it did not matter whether questions and solutions were uttered aloud or whether each of the two went on pondering in silence. In fact, they were silent, their eyes half-closed, reclining on cushions, swaying in hammocks, smoking long amber pipes.
Marco Polo imagined answering (or Kublai Khan imagined his answer) that the more one was lost in unfamiliar quarters of distant cities, the more one understood the other cities he had crossed to arrive there ... - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#91. Lucretius wants to write the poem of matter, but he warns us from the start that the reality of matter is that it's made of invisible particles. He - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#92. It's not that you expect anything in particular from this particular book. You're the sort of person who, on principle, no longer expects anything of anything. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#93. It was the hour in which objects lose the consistency of shadow that accompanies them during the night and gradually reacquire colors, but seem to cross meanwhile an uncertain limbo, faintly touched, just breathed on by light; the hour in which one is least certain of the world's existence. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#94. If one wanted to depict the whole thing graphically, every episode, with its climax, would require a three-dimensional, or, rather, no model: every experience is unrepeatable. What makes lovemaking and reading resemble each other most is that within both of them times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#95. Calvino remembered he had no food in the house and would have to go shopping on Sukhumvit Road. Then he planned to crawl into his bed and sleep, the kind of deep sleep without dreams or hopes, a sleep without regrets, without knowing or thinking how things got the way they are or how occasional fragments of decency escaped the forces of gravity. - Author: Christopher G. Moore
Calvino quotes by Christopher G. Moore
#96. The catalogue of forms is endless: until every shape has found its city, new cities will continue to be born. When the forms exhaust their variety and come apart, the end of cities begins. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#97. My sister always says she loves novels where you feel an elemental strength, primordial, telluric. That's exactly what she says: telluric - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#98. I have for a long time loved fabulist, imaginative fiction, such as the writing of Italo Calvino, Jose Saramago, Michael Bulgakov, and Salman Rushdie. I also like the magic realist writers, such as Borges and Marquez, and feel that interesting truths can be learned about our world by exploring highly distorted worlds. - Author: Alan Lightman
Calvino quotes by Alan Lightman
#99. Now that he is no longer here I should be interested in so many things: philosophy, politics, history. I follow the news, read books, but they befuddle me. What he meant to say is not there, for he understood something else, something that was all-embracing, and he could not say it in words but only by living as he did. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#100. This is what I mean when I say I would like to swim against the stream of time: I would like to erase the consequences of certain events and restore an initial condition. But every moment of my life brings with it an accumulation of new facts, and each of these new facts bring with it consequences; so the more I seek to return to the zero moment from which I set out, the further I move away from it ... - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#101. It was the love which the hunter has for living things, and which he can only express by aiming his gun at them ... - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#102. Clarice, the glorious city, has a tormented history. Several times it decayed, then burgeoned again, always keeping the first Clarice as an unparalleled model of every splendor, compared to which the city's present state can only cause more sighs at every fading of the stars. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#103. My working method has more often than not involved the subtraction of weight. I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities; above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language ... Maybe I was only then becoming aware of the weight, the inertia, the opacity of the world
qualities that stick to the writing from the start, unless one finds some way of evading them. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#104. When I find myself in a dreaded reading slump, nothing boosts me out of it faster than revisiting an old favorite. Old books, like old friends, are good for the soul. But they're not just comfort reads. No, a good book is exciting to return to, because even though I've been there before, the landscape is always changing. I notice something new each time I read a great book. As Italo Calvino wrote, "A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say." Great books keep surprising me with new things. - Author: Anne Bogel
Calvino quotes by Anne Bogel
#105. If you want to know how much darkness there is around you, you must sharpen your eyes, peering at the faint lights in the distance. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#106. Since then I have learned many things, and above all the way in which dinosaurs conquer. First I had believed that disappearing had been, for my brothers, the magnanimous acceptance of a defeat; now I knew that the more the dinosaurs disappear, the more they extend their dominion, and over forests far more vast than those that cover the continents: in the labyrinth of the survivor's thoughts. From the semidarkness of fears and doubts of now ignorant generations, the Dinosaurs continued to extend their necks, to raise their taloned hoofs, and when the last shadow of their image had been erased, their name went on, superimposed on all meanings, perpetuating their presence in relations among living beings. Now, when the name too had been erased, they would become one thing with the mute and anonymous molds of thought, through which thoughts take on form and substance: by the New Ones, and by those who would come after the New Ones, and those who would come even after them. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#107. It can also be useful to politics, enabling that science to discover how much of it is no more than verbal construction, myth, literary tops. Politics, like literature, must above all know itself and distrust itself. As a final observation, I should like to add that it is impossible today for anyone to feel innocent, if in whatever we do or say we can discover a hidden motive - that of a white man, or a male, or the possessor of a certain income, or a member of a given economic system, or a sufferer from a certain neurosis - this should not induce in us either a universal sense of guilt or an attitude of universal accusation. When we become aware of our disease or of our hidden motives, we have already begun to get the better of them. What matters is the way in which we accept our motives and live through the ensuing crisis. This is the only chance we have of becoming different from the way we are - that is, the only way of starting to invent a new way of being. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#108. In every age someone, looking at Fedora as it was, imagined a way of making it the ideal city, but while he constructed his miniature model, Fedora was already no longer the same as before, and what had been until yesterday a possible future became only a toy in a glass globe. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#109. A tale is born from an image, and the image extends and creates a network of meanings that are always equivocal. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#110. Of course, I'm of the generation that grew up with Hemingway and Faulkner as strong influences. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#111. The Anglo-American tradition is much more linear than the European tradition. If you think about writers like Borges, Calvino, Perec or Marquez, they're not bound in the same sort of way. They don't come out of the classic 19th-century novel, which is where all the problems start. 19th-century novels are fabulous and we should all read them, but we shouldn't write them. - Author: Jeanette Winterson
Calvino quotes by Jeanette Winterson
#112. The day came when my travels took me to Pyrrha. As soon as I set foot there, everything I had imagined was forgotten; Pyrrha had become what is Pyrrha; and I thought I had always known that the sea is invisible from the city, hidden behind a due of the low, rolling coast; that the streets are long and straight; that the houses are clumped at intervals, not high, and they are separated by open lots with stacks of lumber and with sawmills; that the wind stirs the vanes of the water pumps. From that moment on the name Pyrrha has brought to my mind this view, this light, this buzzing, this air in which a yellowish dust flies: obviously the name means this and could mean nothing but this. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#113. I will quote Cioran (who is not yet a classic but will become one): "While they were preparing the hemlock, Socrates was learning a tune on the flute. 'What good will it do you,' they asked, 'to know this tune before you die? - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#114. There was a voice, a song, a woman's voice that from time to time the breeze carries all the way up here to you from some open window; there was a lone song that on summer nights the air brought to you in bursts, and the moment you seemed to have grasped some note of it, it was already lost, and you were never sure you had really heard it and had not simply imagined it, desired to hear it, the dream of a woman's voice singing in the nightmare of your long insomnia. This is what you were waiting for, quiet and alert; it is no longer fear that makes you prick up your ears. You have begun to hear again this singing that reaches you with every note distinct, every timbre and colour, from the city that has been abandoned by all music. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#115. A classic is the term given to any book which comes to represent the whole universe, a book on a par with ancient talismans. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#116. It is only when they have the photos before their eyes that they seem to take tangible possession of the day they spent, only then that the mountain stream, the movement of the child with his pail, the glint of sun on the wife's legs take on the irrevocability of what has been and can no longer be doubted. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#117. The universe is the mirror in which we can contemplate only what we have learned to know in ourselves - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#118. Among Chuang-tzu's many skills, he was an expert draftsman. The king asked him to draw a crab. Chuang-tzu replied that he needed five years, a country house, and twelve servants. Five years later the drawing was still not begun. "I need another five years," said Chuang-tzu. The king granted them. At the end of these ten years, Chuang-tzu took up his brush and, in an instant, with a single stroke, he drew a crab, the most perfect crab ever seen. [Calvino retells this Chinese story] - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#119. I have spent more time with other people's books than with my own. I do not regret it. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#120. Photography has a meaning only if it exhausts all possible images. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#121. It is within you that the ghosts acquire voices. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#122. In short, what you are doing is very beautiful but grammatically it doesn't change a thing. At the moment when you most appear to be a united voi, a second person plural, you are two tu's, more separate and circumscribed than before. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#123. Perhaps everything lies in knowing what words to speak, what actions to perform, and in what order and rhythm; or else someone's gaze, answer, gesture is enough; it is enough for someone to do something for the sheer pleasure of doing it, and for his pleasure to become the pleasure of others: at that moment, all spaces change, all heights, distances; the city is transfigured, becomes crystalline, transparent as a dragonfly. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#124. To write well about the elegant world you have to know it and experience it to the depths of your being ... what matters is not whether you love it or hate it, but only to be quite clear about your position regarding it. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#125. The city is redundant: it repeats itself so that something will stick in the mind.
[ ... ]
Memory is redundant: it repeats signs so that the city can begin to exist. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#126. All that can be done is for each of us to invent our own ideal library of our classics; and I would say that one half of it would consist of books we have read and that have meant something for us and the other half of books which we intend to read and which we suppose might mean something to us. We should also leave a section of empty spaces for surprises and chance discoveries. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#127. Reading is a possession, a march toward a possession. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#128. Why not admit that my dissatisfaction reveals an excessive ambition, perhaps a megalomaniac delirium? For the writer who wants to annul himself in order to give voice to what is outside him, two paths open: either write a book that could be the unique book, that exhausts the whole in its pages; or write all books, to pursue the whole through its partial images. The unique book, which contains the whole, could only be the sacred text, the total world revealed. But I do not believe totality can be contained in language; my problem is what remains outside, the unwritten, the unwritable. The only way left me is that writing of all books, writing the books of all possible authors.

If I think I must write one book, all the problems of how this book should be and how it should not be block me and keep me from going forward. If, on the contrary, I think that I am writing a whole library, I feel suddenly lightened: I know that whatever I write will be integrated, contradicted, balanced, amplified, buried by the hundreds of volumes that remain for me to write. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#129. That's how it is: everything women have been told about love has been wrong. They've been told all sorts of things, but all wrong. And their experiences, all imprecise. And yet, they trust the things they're told, not the experiences. [ ... ] And yet, it's easier for women. Life flows in them, a great river, in them, the perpetuators, nature is sure and mysterious, in them. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#130. Fantasy is a place where it rains. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#131. The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#132. A pawn in a very complicated game, a little cog in a huge gear, so little that it should not even be seen: in fact, it was established that I would go through here without leaving any traces; and instead, every minute I spend here I am leaving more traces. I leave traces if I do not speak with anyone, since I stick out as a man who won't open his mouth; I leave traces if I speak with someone because every word spoken is a word that remains and can crop up again later, with quotation marks or without. Perhaps this is why the author piles supposition on supposition in long paragraphs without dialogue, a thick, opaque layer of lead where I may pass unnoticed, disappear.
I am not at all the sort of person who attracts attention, I am an anonymous presence against an even more anonymous background. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#133. How long are you going to let yourself be dragged passively by the plot? You had flung yourself into the action, filled with adventurous impulses: and then? Your function was quickly reduced to that of one who records situations decided by others, who submits to whims, finds himself involved in events that elude his control. Then what use is your role as protagonist to you? If you continue lending yourself to this game, it means that you, too, are an accomplice of the general mystification. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#134. An exotic birthplace on its own is not informative of anything. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#135. Writing always means hiding something in such a way that it then is discovered; because the truth that can come from my pen is like a shard that has been chipped from a great boulder by a violent impact, then flung far away; because there is no certitude outside falsification. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#136. I sense a hint of bitterness in this letter of yours and in a previous one. Excellent: we are living in a dark period, there is absolutely nothing going right, and the only consolation we have is to think about the brevity of life. I have to say that in this situation I am absolutely fine, and I am giving myself up finally to total misanthropy, which I now discover corresponds fully to my true nature. But you seem to be still anxious about something or other. Ha, ha! Don't worry, it will just get worse and worse. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#137. For the person who wants to capture everything that passes before his eyes, [...] the only coherent way to act is to snap at least one picture a minute, from the instant he opens his yes in the morning to when he goes to sleep. This is the only way that he rolls of exposed film will represent a faithful diary of our days, with nothing left out. If I were to start taking pictures, I'd see this thing through, even if it meant losing my mind. But the rest of you still insist on making a choice. What sort of choice? A choice in the idyllic sense, apologetic, consolatory, at peace with nature, the fatherland, the family. Your choice isn't only photographic; it is a choice of life, which leads you to exclude dramatic conflicts, the knots of contradiction, the great tensions of will, passion, aversion. So you think you are saving yourselves from madness, but you are falling into mediocrity, into hebetude."

- from "The Adventure of a Photographer - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#138. If on a winter's night a traveler, outside the town of Malbork, leaning from the steep slope without fear of wind or vertigo, looks down in the gathering shadow in a network of lines that enlace, in a network of lines that intersect, on the carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon around an empty grave-What story down there awaits its end?-he asks, anxious to hear the story. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#139. Don't you ever get tired of reading?" she asked. "You could hardly be called good company! Don't you know that, with women, you're supposed to make conversation?" she added; her half smile was perhaps meant to be ironic, though to Amedeo, who at that moment would have paid anything rather than give up his novel, it seemed downright threatening. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#140. A child's pleasure in listening to stories lies partly in waiting for things he expects to be repeated: situations, phrases, formulas. Just as in poems and songs the rhymes help to create the rhythm, so in prose narrative there are events that rhyme. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#141. Nature in America does not arouse powerful emotions in me. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#142. The world is so complicated, tangled, and overloaded that to see into it with any clarity you must prune and prune. In - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#143. Renouncing things is less difficult than people believe: it's all a matter of getting started. Once you've succeeded in dispensing with something you thought essential, you realize you can also do without something else, then without many other things. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#144. Classics are books which, the more we think we know them through hearsay, the more original, unexpected, and innovative we find them when we actually read them. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#145. Meanwhile, what do you do? How do you occupy this absence of yourself from the world and of the world from you? You read; you do not raise your eyes from the book between one airport and the other, because beyond the page there is the void, the anonymity of stopovers, of the metallic uterus that contains you and nourishes you, of the passing crowd always different and always the same. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#146. I could distinguish the shape of her bosom, her arms, her thighs, just as I remember them now, just as now, when the Moon has become that flat, remote circle, I still look for her as soon as the first sliver appears in the sky, and the more it waxes, the more clearly I imagine I can see her, her or something of her, but only her, in a hundred, a thousand different vistas, she who makes the Moon the Moon and, whenever she is full, sets the dogs to howling all night long, and me with them. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#147. And I see the houses of the human race perched on the edge of the sea, shipwrecked in their false neighborliness. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#148. Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combinatoria of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#149. The dream of being invisible ... When I find myself in an environment where I can enjoy the illusion of being invisible, I am really happy. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#150. I'm terrified of writing at night, for then I can't sleep. So I start slowly, slowly writing in the morning and go on into the late afternoon. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#151. If the spark doesn't come, that's a pity; but we do not read the classics out of duty or respect, but only out of love. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#152. Or else you can say, like the camel driver who took me there: "I arrived here in my first youth, one morning, many people were hurrying along the streets toward the market, the women had fine teeth and looked you straight in the eye, three soldiers on a platform played the trumpet, and all around wheels turned and colored banners fluttered in the wind. Before then I had known only the desert and the caravan routes. In the years that followed, my eyes returned to contemplate the desert expanses and the caravan routes; but now I know this path is only one of the many that opened before me on that morning in Dorothea. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#153. Success consists in felicity of verbal expression, which every so often may result from a quick flash of inspiration but as a rule involves a patient search ... for the sentence in which every word is unalterable. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#154. These cities grew in approximately the same places as our cities do now, however different the shape of the continents was. There was even a New York that in some way resembled the New York familiar to all of you, but was much newer, or, rather, more awash with new products, new toothbrushes, a New York with its own Manhattan that stretched out dense with skyscrapers gleaming like the nylon bristles of a brand-new toothbrush. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#155. Readers are my vampires. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#156. I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities; above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#157. In museums I always enjoy stopping at the Saint Jeromes. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#158. It is only after you have come to know the surface of things ... that you can venture to seek what is underneath. But the surface of things is inexhaustible. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#159. A conversation with Miss Zwida would lead me inevitably to talk about seashells, and I cannot decide what attitude to take, whether to pretend absolute ignorance or to call on a remote experience now vague; it is my relationship with my life, consisting of things never concluded and half erased, that the subject of seashells forces me to contemplate; hence the uneasiness that finally puts me to flight. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#160. He knows the conspirators are waiting for a sign from the Sultana to light the fuse, but she has given orders never to disturb her while she is reading, not even if the palace were about to blow up ... - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#161. In addition there is the fact that this girl's application in drawing seashells denotes in her a search for formal perfection which the world can and therefore must attain; I, on the contrary, have been convinced for some time that perfection is not produced except marginally and by chance; Therefore it deserves no interest at all, the true nature of things being revealed only in disintegration. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#162. It was on the fifteenth of June, 1767, that Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò, my brother, sat among us for the last time. And it might have been today, I remember it so clearly. We were in the dining room of our house at Ombrosa, the windows framing the thick branches of the great holm oak in the park. It was midday, the old traditional dinner hour followed by our family, though by then most nobles had taken to the fashion set by the sluggard Court of France, of dining halfway through the afternoon. A breeze was blowing from the sea, I remember, rustling the leaves. Cosimo said: "I told you I don't want any, and I don't!" and pushed away his plateful of snails. Never had we seen such disobedience. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#163. Academic envelope serves only to protect everything the story says and does not say, an inner afflatus always on the verge of being dispersed at contact with the air, the echo of a vanished knowledge revealed in the penumbra and in tacit allusions. Torn - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#164. The proper use of language, for me personally, is one that enables us to approach things (present or absent) with discretion, attention, and caution, with respect for what things (present or absent) communicate without words. - Author: Italo Calvino
Calvino quotes by Italo Calvino
#165. You walk for days among trees and among stones. Rarely does the eye light on a thing, and then only when it has recognized that thing as the sign of another thing: a print in the sand indicates the tiger's passage; a marsh announces a vein of water; the hibiscus flower, the end of winter. All the rest is silent and interchangeable; trees and stones are only what they are. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#166. Novelists tell that piece of truth hidden at the bottom of every lie. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#167. But in vain I set out to visit the city: forced to remain motionless and always the same, in order to be more easily remembered, Zora has languished, disintegrated, disappeared. The earth has forgotten her. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#168. So our efforts led us to become those perfect objects of a sense whose nature nobody quite knew yet, and which later became perfect precisely through the perfection of its object, which was, in fact, us. I'm talking about sight, the eyes; only I had failed to foresee one thing: the eyes that finally opened to see us didn't belong to us but to others. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#169. For those who pass it without entering, the city is one thing; it is another for those who are trapped by it and never leave. There is the city where you arrive for the first time; and there is another city which you leave never to return. Each deserves a different name; perhaps I have already spoken of Irene under other names; perhaps I have spoken only of Irene. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#170. There is a place where spiders make their nests. Only Pin knows it. He's the only one in the whole valley, perhaps in the whole area. No other boy except Pin has ever heard of spiders that make nests. Perhaps one day Pin will find a friend, a real friend, who understands him and whom he can understand, and then to him, and only to him, will he show the place where the spiders have their lairs. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#171. A model is by definition that in which nothing has to be changed, that which works perfectly; whereas reality, as we see clearly, does not work and constantly falls to pieces; so we must force it, more or less roughly, to assume the form of the model. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#172. Again I am torn between the necessity and the impossibility of answering. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#173. I've been in love for five hundred million years ... - Author: Italo Calvino
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#174. I suffer from everyday life. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#175. Here in Turin you can write because past and future have greater prominence than the present, the force of past history and the anticipation of the future give a concreteness and sense to the discrete, ordered images of today. Turin is a city which entices the reader towards vigour, linearity, style. It encourages logic, and through logic it opens the way toward madness. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#176. A person, for example, reads in adulthood a book that is important for him, and it makes him say, "How could I have lived without reading it!" and also, "What a pity I did not read it in my youth!" Well, these statements do not have much meaning, especially the second, because after he has read that book, his life becomes the life of a person who has read that book, and it is of little importance whether he read it early or late, because now his life before that reading also assumes a form shaped by that reading. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#177. Knowledge of the world means dissolving the solidity of the world. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#178. An outsider was taking my place, was becoming me, my cage with the starlings would become his, the stereoscope, the real Uhlan helmet hanging from a nail, all my things that I couldn't take with me remained to him; or, rather, it was my relationship with things, places, people, that was becoming his, just as I was about to become him, to take his place among the things and people of his life. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#179. I am a Saturn who dreams of being a Mercury, and everything I write reflects these two impulses. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#180. The more one was lost in unfamiliar quarters of distant cities, the more one understood the other cities he had crossed to arrive there; and he retraced the stages of his journeys, and he came to know the port from which he set sail, and the familiar places of his youth, and the surroundings of home ... - Author: Italo Calvino
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#181. What makes Argia different from other cities is that it has earth instead of air. The streets are completely filled with dirt, clay packs the rooms to the ceiling, on every stair another stairway is set in negative, over the roofs of the houses hang layers of rocky terrain like skies with clouds. We do not know if the inhabitants can move about the city, widening the worm tunnels and the crevices where roots twist: the dampness destroys people's bodies and they have scant strength; everyone is better off remaining still, prone; anyway, it is dark.
From up here, nothing of Argia can be seen; some say, "It's down below there," and we can only believe them. The place is deserted. At night, putting your ear to the ground, you can sometimes hear a door slam. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#182. The novels that attract me most ... are those that create an illusion of transperancy around a knot of human relationships as obscure, cruel and perverse as possible. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#183. Perinthia's astronomers are faced with a difficult choice. Either they must admit that all their calculations are wrong and their figures are unable to describe the heavens, or else they must reveal that the order of the gods is reflected exactly in the city of monsters. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#184. The Great Khan tried to concentrate on the game: but now it was the game's reason that eluded him. The end of every game is a gain or a loss: but of what? What were the real stakes? At checkmate, beneath the foot of the king, knocked aside by the winner's hand, nothingness remains: a black square, or a white one. By disembodying his conquests to reduce them to the essential, Kublai had arrived at the extreme operation: the definitive conquest, of which the empire's multiform treasures were only illusory envelopes; it was reduced to a square of planed wood. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#185. To fall asleep like a bird. To have a wing you could stick your head under, a
world of branches suspended above the earthly world, barely glimpsed down
below, muffled and remote. Once you begin rejection your present state, there is no knowing where you can arrive. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#186. Instead I find myself more and more outside; from one courtyard I move to another courtyard, as if in this palace all the doors served only for leaving and never for entering. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#187. Every choice has its obverse, that is to say a renunciation, and so there is no difference between the act of choosing and the act of renouncing - Author: Italo Calvino
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#188. Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#189. This is how Raimbaut saw him, as with quick assured movements he arranged the pine cones in a triangle, then in squares on the sides of the triangle, and obstinately compared the pine cones on the shorter sides of the triangle with those of the square of the hypotenuse. Raimbaut realised that all this moved by ritual, convention, formulas, and beneath it there was ... what? He felt a vague sense of discomfort come over him at knowing himself to be outside all these rules of a game. But then his wanting to avenge his father's death, his ardor to fight, to enroll himself among Charlemagne's warriors - wasn't that also a ritual to prevent plunging into the void, like this raising and setting of pine cones by Sir Agilulf? Oppressed by the turmoil of such unexpected questions, young Raimbaut flung himself to the ground and burst into tears. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#190. Cosimo did not yet know love, and what is any experience without that? What point is there in risking life, when the real flavor of life is as yet unknown? - Author: Italo Calvino
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#191. My brother maintains," I answered, "that those who wish to look carefully at the earth should stay at the necessary distance," and Voltaire very much admired the answer. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#192. There is the moment when the silence of the countryside gathers in the ear and breaks into a myriad of sounds:a croaking and squeaking, a swift rustle in the grass, a plop in the water, a pattering on earth and pebbles, and high above all, the call of the cicada, The sounds follow one another, and the ear eventually discerns more and more of them -just as fingers unwinding a ball of wool feel each fiber interwoven with progressively thinner and less palpable threads, The frogs continue croaking in the background without changing the flow of sounds, just as light does not vary from the continues winking of stars, But at every rise or fall of the wind every sound changes and is renewed. All that remains in the inner recess of the ear is a vague murmur: the sea. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#193. It is pointless trying to decide whether Zenobia is to be classified among happy cities or among the unhappy. It makes no sense to divide cities into these two species, but rather into another two: those that through the years and the changes continue to give their form to desires, and those in which desires either erase the city or are erased by it. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#194. There are days when everything I see seems to me charged with meaning: messages it would be difficult for me to communicate to others, define, translate into words, but which for this very reason appear to me decisive. They are announcements or presages that concern me and the world at once: for my part, not only the external events of my existence but also what happens inside, in the depths of me; and for the world, not some particular event but the general way of being of all things. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#195. So you begin to wonder if Leonia's true passion is really, as they say, the enjoyment of new and different things, and not, instead, the joy of expelling, discarding, cleansing itself of a recurrent impurity. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#196. How much energy is wasted in Italy in trying to write the novel that obeys all the rules. The energy might have been useful to provide us with more modest, more genuine things, that had less pretensions: short stories, memoirs, notes, testimonials, or at any rate, books that are open, without a preconceived plan. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#197. You take delight not in a city's seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#198. Literature is necessary to politics above all when it gives a voice to the one who doesn't have a voice, when it gives a name to the one who doesn't have a name, and especially to all that political language excludes or tends to exclude ... Literature is like a ear that can hear more than Politics; Literature is like an eye that can perceive beyond the chromatic scale to which Politics is sensitive. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#199. I ask you to come down to earth," said the Baron in a calm, rather faint voice, "and to take up the duties of your station!"
"I have no intention of obeying you, my Lord Father," said Cosimo. "I am very sorry."
They were ill at ease, both of them, bored. Each knew what the other would say. "And what about your studies? Your devotions as a Christian?" said the father. "Do you intend to grown up like an American Savage?"
Cosimo was silent. These were thoughts he had not yet put to himself and had no wish to. Then he exclaimed: "Just because I'm a few yards higher up, does it mean that good teaching can't reach me?"
This was an able reply too, though it diminished, in a way, the range of his gesture; a sign of weakness.
His father realized this and became more pressing. "Rebellion cannot be measured by yards," said he. "Even when a journey seems no distance at all, it can have no return."
Now was the moment for my brother to produce some other noble reply, perhaps a Latin maxim, but at that instant none came into his head, though he knew so many by heart. Instead he suddenly got bored with all this solemnity, and shouted: "But from the trees I can piss farther," a phrase without much meaning, but which cut the discussion short.
As though they had heard the phrase, a shout went up from the ragamuffins around Porta Capperi. The Baron of Rondo's horse shied, the Baron pulled the reins and wrapped himself more tightly in his cloak, ready to leave. - Author: Italo Calvino
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#200. If you choose to believe me, good. Now I will tell you how Octavia, the spider-web city, is made. There is a precipice between two steep mountains: the city is over the void, bound to the two crests with ropes and chains and catwalks. You walk on the little wooden ties, careful not to set your foot in the open spaces, or you cling to the hempen strands. Below there is nothing for hundreds and hundreds of feet: a few clouds glide past; farther down you can glimpse the chasm's bed.
This is the foundation of the city: a net which serves as passage and as support. All the rest, instead of rising up, is hung below: rope ladders, hammocks, houses made like sacks, clothes hangers, terraces like gondolas, skins of water, gas jets, spits, baskets on strings, dumb-waiters, showers, trapezes and rings for children's games, cable cars, chandeliers, pots with trailing plants.
Suspended over the abyss, the life of Octavia's inhabitants is less uncertain than in other cities. They know the net will only last so long. - Author: Italo Calvino
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