Sunday, January 01, 2006

"Cities and Memory 1 & 2" by Italo Calvino

In somewhat of a break from a tradition, we present 2006's first title: the first two chapters from Italo Calvino's acclaimed Invisible Cities, which actually does read as much if not more like a collection of short stories than a novel, as it is usually labeled. These pages introduce us to Calvino's complex conception of place and time as shaped by memory, interpreted by Marco Polo!

We have seen Calvino on these pages previously, and we are glad to have him back. Did you know he was the son of two botanists and the brother to a well-known geologist, and that he was born in Cuba? Of course, although he traveled around a great deal, he spent most of his life in Italy. There, he specialized in highly intellectualized works that explore the limits of fiction and the boundaries of science and philosophy. Most important of all was his love of language: "Everything can change, but not the language that we carry inside us, like a world more exclusive and final than one's mother's womb," he once said.

We have been keeping Michael Armstrong's recording in cold storage for some months until we were ready to revamp this site, so we are overjoyed to finally unthaw this offering and serve it to you. Michael Armstrong is a writer and educator who divides his time between England, Italy, and America, where he has worked with both graduate students of English and inner-city children. He is especially interested in understanding the nature of human creativity, so it is no suprise that he reveres Calvino. We thank his for his extreme generosity in taking time out of his busy shedule to read for us.


Anonymous said...

In iTunes this downloaded as a 50 second audio file.

Scoot said...

As the "Peanuts" characters used to say, "Aaargh!" We really don't know what the trouble with iTunes is--bitrate, probably, or maybe the server--but if anyone could tell us how to fix this continuing problem, we'd love to know how! Unfortunately, we do not have an Apple computer or use iTunes or an iPod ourselves. The only surefire way to get these files is probably just to download directly from these pages. Sorry!

Carl Leroy-Smith said...

I very much enjoyed your readings of the two Invisble Cities chapters. I have just finished doing a little 7x5 watercolour of each chapter. They are all on my blog if you'd care to take a look.


Carl Leroy-Smith
Deer Park Alpha

Scoot said...

Carl, those illustrations are marvelous! We've always thought more adult book should be illustrated--and Calvino seems especially ripe for it. Your illustrations seem to expertly balance the somewhat abstract, philsophical quality of his writing and the sharp imagery of his dreamlike vision. Michael Armstrong uses the powers of illustration a lot in both his adults' and children's classes, and he'd probably appreciate this imaginative approach to literature, too.

Thanks for the comments--we encourage everyone to check out your site. How about "The Baron in the Trees" next?

Carl Leroy-Smith said...


Thanks for the kind comments. I haven't read "The Baron in the Trees", but will check it out next time I'm in the library. I must say I am not aware of Michael Armstrong, can you point me in his direction?

Keep up the good work on yoru blog, I have published a post on mine today pointing people to you.

All the best


Scoot said...

Thanks so much, Carl! That's very kind of you. It's been a very busy year so far and we need to fill in the details on this site soon, so stay tuned. The Baron in the Trees is highly recommended, an arboreal picaresque, if you well.

Michael Armstrong is an Englishman we know who specializes in studying children's imaginations, as well as Italian and Italian literature (Calvino being his specialty). He is formerly head teacher of Parwell Primary School, Oxford. He may not be quite famous, but he is a well-known educator and writer himself. We're sure he'd love your illustrations!