by Italo Calvino




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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. Translated by William Weaver. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

User reviews

LibraryThing member bojanfurst
I am a big Calvino fan, but of all his books Marcovaldo is the one I pick up on the days when the world does not seem to be a particularly nice place. The tribulations of this wonderful character, a dreamer of infinite gentleness and humanity, will warm even the crustiest of hearts.
LibraryThing member P_S_Patrick
In that the book revolves around one character, and contains both the humorous and profound in varying measures, it is like another book by Calvino, Mr Palomar, but with the difference being that the two characters have vastly different personalities.
Marcovaldo, or Seasons in the City, is a
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sequence of 20 short stories based around the main character Marcovaldo. They are each set in a specific season, with each of the four seasons being represented five times. Marcovaldo, despite living in the city, identifies far more with the natural and seems to find urban life oppressive. He is quite a sensitive character, and his misadventures during the course of the book often revolve around either the kindness of his nature or his appreciation for the simple pleasures and beauties in life. Part of what makes the stories so enjoyable is that it is easy to identify with the thoughts of the character, and even when he does silly things and gets into trouble, his actions are brought about by good or innocent intentions. This is probably one of the better collections of Calvino's short stories, and would serve just as well to a first time Calvino reader as a more familiar one.
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LibraryThing member isabelx
On the edge of the sidewalk at a certain point there was a considerable heap of snow. Marcovaldo was about to level it to the height of his little walls when he realized that it was an automobile: the de luxe car of Commendatore Alboino, chairman of the board, all covered with snow. Since the
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difference between an automobile and a pile of snow was so slight, Marcovaldo began creating the form of an automobile with his shovel. It came out well: you really couldn't tell which of the two was real. To put the final touches on his work Marcovaldo used some rubbish that had turned up in his shovel: a rusted tin served to model the shape of a headlight; an old tap gave the door its handle.
A great bowing and scraping of doormen, attendants and flunkies, and the chairman Commendatore Alboino came out of the main entrance. Short-sighted and efficient, he strode straight out to his car, grasped the protruding tap, pulled it down, bowed his head, and stepped into the pile of snow up to his neck.

Marcovaldo is a displaced peasant, living and working in the city but homesick for the countryside. As he walks the grim streets on his way to work, he keeps his eyes open for glimpses of the natural world he loves so much. These are amusing and stories with surreal touches, but they usually end sadly for Marcovaldo.
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LibraryThing member weeksj10
One of the most uplifting, beautiful, inspirational books I've found. The writing is splendid and makes event he most simple things in the world new and beautiful. This is the book I turn to when the snows of winter seem to be suffocating me or the summer sun is draining all my energy. It simply
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makes me appreciate life the way everyone should. PLEASE READ IT!!
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LibraryThing member madepercy
This is a rather intriguing work, but I fear much is lost in translation. Touches of mid-century Italian comedy are evident, but I daresay there is more than meets the eye. A better knowledge of mid-century Italy would be useful to better understand the subtle messages of urbanisation and the
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peasant mind. Calvino was rather prolific so with a little research and some more reading, I hope to glean the deeper purpose of this author.
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LibraryThing member PZR
Like Borges, Calvino's metier was the short form - short stories and novellas. Even his "novels" - 'If on a Winter's Night a Traveller', 'The Castle of Crossed Destinies' 'Invisible Cities' - are short story collections underneath the skin. This is no exception. It falls into that category of
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collected tales relating incidents from the daily lives of their central character - 'Mr Palomar', 'Cosmicomics', arguably - that are at once mundane and fantastic.

Marcovaldo is from peasant stock, transplanted to the industrial city - I'm guessing Turin - there to live in poverty with his young family in half-basements and garrets and to work in a packing factory. And herein lies the tension, as the country boy chases after those echoes of his former life to be found in the metropolis. There are no weak tales among the twenty collected here but I had favourites, inevitably. Like many of these tales, 'A Journey with the Cows' is a mini-picaresque with a powerful moral. 'The Wrong Stop' follows a similar path, featuring a heartbreaking and beautiful opening paragraph and a fantastical ending. They're tales of the unexpected in which the unexpected turns out to be not macabre but comic and surreal.

Starting with 1952's 'The Cloven Count' and ending with 1983's 'Mr Palomar', I can't think of a more outstanding body of work in modern literature. The human insights, the humour, the sumptuous descriptions, the stylistic innovations and enormous imaginative power - Calvino's oeuvre is genuinely inspirational to both the adventurous reader and the writer.
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LibraryThing member heggiep
I think these whimsical vignettes about the poor but ever-hopeful Marcovaldo are best read, as I did, one at a time over a long period. Like occasionally meeting an old friend on the street and catching up. A nice bedside book.
LibraryThing member Tytania
Connected short stories that grew on me. The title character is basically a schlemiel, but it's not just about schlemielitude. Calvino surrealism is present. Marcovaldo is a poverty-stricken father of six in poverty-stricken northern Italy in the 1950s-1960s. First living in a basement room and
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then in a garret, he and his complaining wife and mischievous troublesome children make discoveries and get into pickles and end up on hospital cots or afoul of the law or the landlady. And life goes on to the next story.
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Physical description

7.48 inches


8804606819 / 9788804606819
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