Marcovaldo: or the Seasons in the City

Paperback | November 16, 1983

byItalo CalvinoEditorWilliam Weaver

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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

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An unskilled worker in a drab northern Italian industrial city of the 1950s and 1960s, Marcovaldo has a practiced eye for spotting natural beauty and an unquenchable longing to come a little closer to the unspoiled world of his imagining. Much to the puzzlement of his wife, his children, his boss, and his neighbors, he chases his dream...

From the Publisher

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 Bo...

From the Jacket

An unskilled worker in a drab northern Italian industrial city of the 1950s and 1960s, Marcovaldo has a practiced eye for spotting natural beauty and an unquenchable longing to come a little closer to the unspoiled world of his imagining. Much to the puzzlement of his wife, his children, his boss, and his neighbors, he chases his dream...

ITALO CALVINO (1923-1985) attained worldwide renown as one of the twentieth century's greatest storytellers. Born in Cuba, he was raised in San Remo, Italy, and later lived in Turin, Paris, Rome, and elsewhere. Among his many works are Invisible Cities , If on a winter's night a traveler , The Baron in the Trees , and other novels, as ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:128 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.35 inPublished:November 16, 1983Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0156572044

ISBN - 13:9780156572040

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From Our Editors

An unskilled worker in a drab northern Italian industrial city of the 1950s and 1960s, Marcovaldo has a practiced eye for spotting natural beauty and an unquenchable longing to come a little closer to the unspoiled world of his imagining. Much to the puzzlement of his wife, his children, his boss, and his neighbors, he chases his dreams, gives rein to his fantasies, tries-with more ingenuousness than skill-to lessen his burden and that of those around him. The results are never the anticipated ones.

Editorial Reviews

In their first English translation and US publication: 20 short sketches written in the early 1950s and mid-1960s, all featuring the hapless aspirations of Marcovaldo, a father, husband, and unskilled laborer in a northern Italian city. With sly wit and utter economy, Calvino satirizes the drabness of the impoverished 1950s, the hollowness of the "booming" 1960s - yet never settles for easy targets or sentimentality, much preferring the ambivalence of whimsy. Thus, Marcovaldo may be forever yearning for the simpler, pastoral pleasures - and Calvino sympathizes - but his dreamy quests almost always have an under-cutting, wry outcome. With "an eye ill-suited to city life," for instance, Marcovaldo is overjoyed to spy mushrooms sprouting on a city street ("something could still be expected of life, beyond the hourly wage. . . with inflation index"); but this bucolic miracle leads only to a stomach-pump at the local hospital. Likewise, Marcovaldo has little luck with schemes to enjoy the night air, to feast on roast woodcock, to adopt a rabbit, to get his fish direct from the river. Nor, on the other hand, do his attempts at entrepreneurship - offering wasp-sting treatments (for arthritis), collecting free detergent samples, turning ugly neighborhood billboards to economic advantage - work out much better. And sometimes the clash between the realities of Marcovaldo's life and the consumer-society around him result in surreal vignettes: a visit, with empty pockets, to a super-supermarket, filling up cart after cart with unbuyable items; a disoriented ramble through the dark city, looking for the right tram. . . but winding up on an India-bound airplane. Rich with implications about the social milieu, yet far more insistent on fable-like charm than any message: a gentle, small early-Calvino treat, shrewdly translated and agreeably packaged.