Italo Calvino is always fun to read While Marcovaldo does not have the Borgesian or post modern tropes of Invisible Cities or If on a winter s night a traveller, it is a heart warming collection of brilliantly crafted stories, the pinnacle achievement being the lovable naivete and inventive imagination of the titular Italian, Marcovaldo The whimsy and lyricism of Calvino s prose is worthwhile enough to embark on the too short modern voyage of this short book, though it has much else to offer as well.
The character of Marcovaldo is a man caught between two abysses He lives in a northern industrial city of Italy in the postwar 1950 s through 1960 s though the particular city is never mentioned, and likely is an imagined city, I imagined it as loosely based on the industrialized city of Turin which bridged the eras of poverty with economic boom Marcovaldo is the lovable loser, a character trope very popular in post modern post modern fiction, as a break with the great thinkers and heroes of previous literary movements and from the classical characters of Hamlet, Odysseus, etc He works at a shipping firm, doing menial work which he does not enjoy but which puts meager food on his family s table He has a wife and five children which share his whimsy and naivete, though they are much accustomed to the modern world in which they live Marcovaldo is torn between the world of beauty which he feels is impossible in city life, the beauty of nature and of romantic notions, and the world, the reality, which constantly makes demands on him, awakes him rudely from his reveries This Marcovaldo possessed an eye ill suited to city life billboards, traffic lights, shop windows, neon signs, posters, no matter how carefully devised to catch the attention, never arrested his gaze, which might have been running over the desert sands Instead he would never miss a leaf yellowing on a branch, a feather trapped by a roof tile there was no horsefly on a horse s back, no worm hole in a plank, or fig peel squashed on the sidewalk that Marcovaldo didn t remark and ponder over, discovering the changes of the season, the yearnings of his heart, and the woes of his existence.
Each story represents a short aphoristic anecdote, taking place in one season of one of the five years encompassed in the collection spring summer autumn winter Most stories are very short, and every one is charming in a whimsical if not magical way A number of the stories stand out to me after having finished Marcovaldo dreams of sleeping out beneath the stars, among nature, but after sneaking out with his pillow, he is held at bay by an arguing couple, then is distracted by a traffic light, the smell of a cabbage truck, etc until he finally can get to sleep only to moments later be woken at dawn Another story has him jealously hoarding the secret of some wild mushrooms growing along the road, only to find another has discovered them as well he relents and invites everyone to join in picking them, only for everyone to get sick from the poisonous fungi Marcovaldo s romantic imagination is constantly foiled by the reality in which he lives Where he sees fresh, wild mushrooms he finds poisonous ones, where he sees a river surfeit with fish he finds them poisoned by an upstream paint company, a mountain escape is the grounds of a sanatorium, the romantic sleep beneath the stars no sleep at all.
There are two layers to the message of Marcovaldo on the one hand, Marcovaldo is representative of a flawed view of the world, and the unhappiness and disappointment inherent in unreasonable attachment to the past, or out of reach ideals Sometimes I wish I had been born in 1900, gone to literary salons and fashionable soirees, rode in hansom cabs But that is an overly romanticized vision of a past era, and era gone And it is gone because the world I live in now is better, much accommodating, far fairer, and people in general are better off Sure I may never know what it s like to collect love letters in a small gilt rim cigar box, or go to an illustrious debutante ball and gossip in the corner beside a girandola mirror, but on the other hand, t shirts are so much comfortable than those starchy collared shirts and breast coats, so, there s that While Marcovaldo s attachment to a natural world which is far beyond the city limits, and beyond his practical grasp, he is never disheartened, and that is what makes him so lovable He is a fool, but a very lovable fool.
On the other hand, there is a tension between the advantages of industrialization and the beauty and benefits of naturalization Calvino is far from supporting an unindustrialized world, one without cities, one made for the Marcovaldos of the world but he is also condemnatory of the excesses in industrial cities pollution, traffic, waste, blind consumerism The character of Marcovaldo is deliberate in his ridiculousness, but so are the many citizens of the silly city somewhere in Northern Italy Those who resist industrialization seem as ridiculous as those who violently support it Calvino sees it as an inevitablity, though one which requires a better balance Cannibalistic consumerism infringes on the natural beauty, but it is capable of a beauty of its own, and the urban images which Calvino fills these pages with illustrate that potential beautyMarcovaldo went back to look at the moon, then he went to look at a traffic light, a bit farther on The light flashed yellow, yellow, yellow, constantly blinking on and off Marcovaldo compared the moon with the traffic light The moon with her mysterious pallor, also yellow, but also green, in its depths, and even blue the traffic light with its common little yellow And the moon, all calm, casting her light without haste, streaked now and then by fine wisps of clouds, which she majestically allowed to fall around her shoulders and the traffic light meanwhile, always there, on and off, on and off, throbbing with a false vitality, but actually weary and enslaved The city has a coldly modern art to it, a false vitality it is art, it can only imitate life To Marcovaldo there is not value to this false beauty, it is unnatural and mechanical But Calvino s descriptions of it show that though it does not fit the ideal, there is some art to be had in the man made world Man is like the traffic light in the city, morning on, evening off, in to work then back to home, enslaved to routine, chained to the consumerism which drives him The city is not an ugly place, but rather is the prison of a stifling life Marcovaldo, for all his dislike of the city, is not an unhappy man, though he is plagued by modern troubles, and though he is constantly made the fool of his own gambits, he is a many happy in his childhood in middle age He has not lost the innocence of youth, not lost that vitality or winsome hope for adventure, invention, imagination Though Calvino supports a sojourn in nature, he does not completely condemn the world which is reality, the world with winking traffic lights More important that escaping the city is escaping routine, being spontaneous, being enthusiastic, loving life for what it has to offer and not grudging it for what it lacks.
Marcovaldo, Hilfsarbeiter Und Handlanger, Gesegnet Mit Einer Vielk Pfigen Familie, Die Er Nicht Satt Bekommt, Geh Rt Zu Den Liebenswertesten Figuren Des Gro En M Rchenerz Hlers Italo Calvino, Eine Der Letzten Inkarnationen Aus Der Reihe Bekannter Komiker Wie Charlie Chaplin Mit Einer Besonderheit Marcovaldo Tr Umt Mitten In Der Stadt Von Einer Intakten Natur, Eine Sehnsucht, Die Heute Aktueller Denn Je Ist Und So Begibt Sich Dieser Don Quichotte Mit Unverdrossenem Optimismus Auf Die Suche Nach Einer Heilen Welt Aber Die Pilze, Die Er Bei Seinen Streifz Gen Inmitten Der Stadt Findet, Bringen Ihn Und Seine Familie Ins Krankenhaus Das Kaninchen, Das Er Beim Tierarzt Mitgehen L Sst, Ist Ein Verseuchtes Versuchstier Selbst Das Wunderbare Blau Des Flusses Verdankt Seine Intensive F Rbung Einer Fabrik Die Natur Pr Sentiert Sich Ihm Als Unweigerlich Zerst Rt Dennoch Folgt Er Unbeirrt Seinem Traum Und Am Ende Gelingt Es Diesem Einfachen Mann Mit Kindlichem Gem T Auch Aus Den Absurdesten Situationen Wieder Unbeschadet Herauszukommen Eine Zarte Melancholie Durchzieht Die Geschichten, Die Vom Zusammenprall Von Zivilisation Und Natur Erz Hlen Zugleich Sind Sie Urkomisch, Charmant Und Herrlich Originell Doro Petersen Hat Die Heitere Atmosph Re Eingefangen, Zeigt Aber Auch Die Poesie Und Die Verlorenheit In Der Stadt C una leggera brezza, un vento che viene da lontano, in cielo una luna splendente e Venere lontana, da sola, che esplode di luce il vento si trasforma, diventa violento e strappa le foglie dagli alberi, le fa volteggiare mescolate con la pioggia, tanta acqua che rid vita alle piante, fa crescere funghi e alla fine il vento conduce le foglie verso l arcobaleno Sono le ultime giornate di autunno, arriva l inverno, la neve ricopre il mondo esterno e gli d una forma strana, diversa, si crea una realt difforme, un sogno che fantasia Qui vive Marcovaldo, che cammina sempre con il naso per aria, in compagnia della meraviglia e della curiosit per ci che lo circonda, e con lui il lettore volteggia tra la musicalit dello stile e le invenzioni fantastiche, sempre con storie avventurose soffici e ovattate, delicate come seta, in cui le avventure si concludono con tragicomiche disavventure perch l avventura vivere col naso per aria guardando le bolle di sapone o l arcobaleno, le vespe o le beccacce, i gatti o un coniglio che scappa sui tetti la disavventura un lavoro da operaio, una famiglia da sfamare, una moglie che si lagna sempre, i debiti, la grande citt industriale inquinata e gi rovinata dal consumismo imperante, la malattia Forse il libro non pi attuale come all epoca in cui fu scritto, oltre 50 anni fa, ma non forse vero che siamo tutti dei Marcovaldo 9 10 I actually really liked this one, than I expected This is my second from Italo Calvino, and although this is a far difference from If on a Winter s Night a Traveler , it was almost as great, in different ways Nice to find an author than can write well in multiple genres styles Morcovaldo The Seasons in the City is a collection of vignettes, connected but separated by seasons and time Marcovaldo is an unskilled worker in a drab industrial city in northern Italy He is an irrepressible dreamer and an inveterate schemer Much to the puzzlement of his wife, his children, his boss, and his neighbors, he chases his dreams, but the results are never the expected ones I especially liked that Morcovaldo was a realist, even a pessimist, as opposed to the typical Panglossian Like me, he does not have the easiest life after years enduring this, he has understandably become bitter at times, somewhat cynical The important thing, however, is that every so often he has a unique ability to notice the small things in life to zoom in on a small beauty in his surroundings and allow it to bring him as well as those around him great happiness, even if it is only temporary until work the next day Like me, he may not be what is defined as happy overall, but definitely can be distracted to have frequent, significant periods of temporary happiness Which is sometimes all we can do My favorite vignettes were Park Bench Vacation He sleeps on one on a summer night when he tried of the crowdedness of his own place with his wife and children Alas, various mishaps prevent him from getting any sleep at all Had a few laughs Almost Charlie Chaplin style The Lunch Box Wonderful, eloquent, tangible, descriptive personification with his lunch box bento box Includes than visual explores the nostalgia, as well as the meaning behind it his wife makes it with love every morning for him The Wrong Stop Mesmerizing descriptions of seeing the city as if it came from a dream Morcovaldo has recently seen a film delivering the beautiful scenery in Calcutta Amidst the thick fog in his own country, he begins to see, in the nothingness, the beauty all in his mind s eye What do you know, at the end of his trip, he accidentally boards a plane leaving for Calcutta Morcovaldo at the Supermarket Along with his family, they discover that it is inescapable to follow the movements exhibited by the richer, successful class shoppers, as they are drawn to various products, ever than they intended Ask desire Marcovaldo s extreme lack of funds As they float in the blue called denial, it is not until the supermarket closes that they magically find their way out, forced to pull themselves away from the items in the cart, resisting like magnets.
Calvino nun tarz n ok oyuncu, zorlama ve yorucu bulanlar n hemen s yleyeyim ben onlardan de ilim, Calvino deyince sayg duru una ge enlerdenim sevece ini d nd m, Calvino yla bar malar n sa layacak, sade, ak p giden, keyifli k sa yk lerin bulundu u yk kitab Marcovaldo, ehrin g r lt s nden, ko u turmas ndan, zorluklar ndan ve onun getirisi olan uykusuzluk, huzursuzluktan b km , sessizli i zeleyen bir romantiktir adeta Mevsimler ge er, ehir d n r, sesler de i ir ama romantiklik bakidir Ben yine de Calvino nun Calvinoluk yapt metinleri ye liyorum .
Calvino has been on my radar for a long time, and I think I made a good choice in picking Marcovaldo for a first try This is a small book, but it has a big heart The stories are set in the poverty ridden early 1950 s and follow up to the relative abundance of the 1960 s The immediate connections that spring to mind are the grand masters of Italian neo realism de Sica in The Bycicle Thieves , Fellini in Amarcord and Roma Citta Apperta , Visconti in Rocco and his Brothers or White Nights Going further afield, similar explorations of the condition of the less fortunates members of society, I could mention Truffaut or Kurosawa in their contemporary films What they share with Italo Calvino is the poetry angle, diamonds in the rust and all that jazz, the hope that springs eternal when you are down and the only way is up If we take the quote by Thoreau about the mass of men that live lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them , it becomes clear that Calvino has taken this singing responsibility upon his shoulders, as he follows his Marcovaldo in his ordinary dreams of improving his life by outsmarting the system and in his stubborn perseverence to keep trying despite countless defeats The book could be classed as comedy, the kind that made Chaplin famous for getting us to laugh and cry at the same time at the tragic clown who walks into the sunset with his too short, patched pants and his oversized shoes Subtitled Seasons in the City , this collection of 20 short stories is tied together by the protagonists and the setting Marcovaldo is a handyman unskilled worker in a big city, burdened by low pay, a querulous wife and six children His background is not explicitly given, but he must have been born somewhere in the countryside and transplanted to the concrete jungle of big city Witness his eternal fascination with natureThis Marcovaldo possessed an eye ill suited to city life billboards, traffic lights, shop windows, neon signs, posters, no matter how carefully devised to catch the attention, never arrested his gaze, which might have been running over the desert sands Instead, he would never miss a leaf yellowing on a branch, a feather trapped by a roof tile there was no horsefly on a horse s back, no worm hole in a plank, or fig peel squashed on the sidewalk that Marcovaldo didn t remark and ponder over, discovering the changes of season, the yearnings of his heart, and the woes of his existence The first story sets the tone and the format for all the rest the alienation of living in the big city, the poverty, the sudden glimpse of an opportunity for improvement in this case a row of mushrooms appearing in the gutters of a tramway station , the enthusiasm and the impulsive actionTo Marcovaldo the gray and wretched world surrounding him seemed suddenly generous with hidden riches something could still be expected of life, beyond the hourly wage of his stipulated salary, with inflation index, family grant and cost of living allowance.
, followed by the Irony of Fate when his plans are crushed by the steamroller of Reality From free of charge mushrooms, to a quiet night sleeping on a park bench, trapping birds on rooftops or stealing rabbits from a hospital, bee venom or sand baths treatments for arthritic pains, excursions in search of clean air or clean fish everything poor Marcovaldo plans turns to dust in his hands His children are not excluded from the family curse, I especially liked the one story when his older boy runs from home to spend a summer in the mountains with a herd of cattle For all his poverty and bad luck, Marcovaldo is not a revolutionary, he doesn t plan to overturn the social order and he doesn t rant about the general injustice of life Mostly he is sad and tired, his dreams mostly trivial and his moments of happiness cheap and fleeting Here s an exampleHe is sitted on a bench by an avenue, near the place where he works since his house is far away and to go there at noon costs time and tram tickets, he brings his lunch in the box, bought for the purpose, and he eats in the open air, watching the people go by, and then refreshes himself at a drinking fountain If it s autumn and the sun is out, he chooses places where an occasional ray strikes the shiny red leaves that fall from the trees serve him as napkins the salami skins go to stray dogs, who are quick to become his friends and the sparrows collect the bread crumbs, at a moment when no one is going past in the avenue.
As he eats, he thinks Why am I so happy to taste the flavor of my wife s cooking here, when at home, among the quarells and tears, the debts that crop up in every conversation, I can t enjoy it I found it easy to identify with the main character, not only because I m a big fan of the Italian school of cinema I grew up in a big industrial town, playing around construction sites and unfinished appartment blocks, craving a green park or a holiday by the seaside, alternatively freezing in winter and stifling hot in summerIn every human presence Marcovaldo recognized sadly a brother, stuck like him, even in vacation time, to that oven of cooked and dusty cement, by debts, by the burden of the family, by the meagerness of his wagesLike him, I sought refuge from reality in the magic of the silver screenFor anyone who dislikes his home and finds it inhospitable, the favorite refuge on cold evenings is the moviesAs an Easter Egg for filmgoers, Calvino inserts in one of his stories a homage to one of the most famous cuts from La Dolce Vita , making Marcovaldo hold the lights for the filming of a scene with a diva splashing in a fountain at night.
As summer follows spring and winter follows autumn and Italian economy slowly gathers steam, Marcovaldo moves from a basement room to a rooftop one, acquires a motorcycle and starts going to the movies or to the supermarkets The tone of the stories changes slightly, to a overt condemnation of consummerism, city alienation and inequality billboard signs that hide the stars and keep the family from sleeping, supermarkets full of products they can t afford and yet couldn t help coveting, Christmas holidays marketed to death, free samples of shady products that they don t really need, luxury restaurants with restricted access, and so on But through all these stories of woe and sadness, Calvino manages to find a glimpse of beauty, a lyrical touch, a good word or a kind gesture His development as a writer was also evident as I progressed through these seasons in the city, starting with stark, elegant neo realism and later flirting with magical realism, supra realism, urban fables and a few closing paragraphs that are an allegorical poem of the fight between light and darkness, life and death Simply beautiful.
I guess I ll have to read now my other two books by him that are waiting on my shelves Cosmicomiche and If On a Winter Night a Traveller edit for spelling 2016 Calvino s ecological allegories in the form of magical urban tales, takes a snippet of a story belonging to a season, and binds them into shape together to form the cycle of the seasons Since all twenty of these very short stories feature the same character Marcovaldo, you might just as well be reading a novella Marcovaldo lives through the stories as the double of the writer, observing, reflecting and comparing in a perfectly detached way He is a humble and romantic blue collar worker lost in the big city, which perverts rhythms and obfuscates cycles He is trapped in the unreality of this modern city and longs for nature, and nature rewards him in surprising ways Mushrooms sprout out of the cement in Mushrooms in the City, the sky suddenly opens wide in Park Bench Vacation , the moon shines brighter than the neon signs in The Moon and GNAC to name but a few Economic fragility and the shift from rural to urban life are the threads that tie each story together, with his strength being able to take the most mundane situations and put a fantastical spin on them Not many others writers could pull off Calvino s intent He has the style as well as the substance What I admire with Marcovaldo is Calvino simply following his instincts as a storyteller and achieves a durable balance between the heritage of 20th century Italian neorealism and a fabulous vision of reality He truly believes reality is fabulous, but also likes to believe fables are true, put these two together, and it results in some wonderful and dreamlike episodes where he shines in a clever and witty way There is also a cartoon element to these, with Calvino himself saying he borrowed some of the techniques from a comic strip.
Up until now I have found Calvino a bit of a mixed bag, loved Invisible Cities , but didn t care much for If on a Winter s Night a Traveler , with a few others in between Marcovaldo sits somewhere near the top of the middleground It s better than I expected, but always carried with it a few niggles Still, a decent read, and one that would especially suit the Calvino enthusiast 3.