"Italo Calvino was not only a prolific master of fiction, he was also an uncanny reader of literature. Why Read the Classics? is the most comprehensive collection of Calvino's literary criticism available in English, accounting for the enduring importance to our lives of crucial writers of the Western canon. Here - spanning more than two millennia, from antiquity to postmodernism - are thirty-six ruminations on the writers, poets, and scientists who meant most to Calvino at different stages of his life."--BOOK JACKET.