Conversation with Italo Calvino, on a stop in Paris, regarding his novel The Baron in the Trees. The writer then discusses two of his previous stories, The Cloven Viscount and The Nonexistent Knight, which he expects to unite as a trilogy entitled Our Ancestors.
Italo Calvino (1923-1985) is one of the XXth century's most original Italian novelists, with his unbridled imagination and his strong willingness to renew literature.
He was born in Cuba, which he left during his childhood to go to Italy. Forced to join the Fascist armed scouts, he joined the Resistance in 1943, while simultaneously continuing his literary studies. In 1947, he published his first novel, The Path to the Nest of Spiders, which talks about the vision of a child regarding the Resistance. We already see a lyrical and weird world, which characterises Calvino's universe. He then publishes the famous Our Ancestors trilogy, made up of three novels, The Cloven Viscount (1952), The Baron in the Trees (1957) and The Nonexistent Knight (1959), which are comparable to philosophical tales.
Living in Paris, he joins the Oulipo group (Workroom of Potential Literature) in 1964, which Queneau and Pérec also belong to. Amongst his works, 1979's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller best illustrates the precepts: made up of ten beginnings of the novel, Calvino's work never stops addressing a character-reader, taking him aside and integrating him into the tale as a character. At the same time, his interest in natural sciences and sociology never ceases to grow. This had an influence on his work entitled Cosmicomics (1965), a collection of scientific-fantasy tales. He lived the rest of his life in Italy.