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The Uses of Literature Paperback – October 21, 1987


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One comes away from this collection of intellectually playful essays...by Italy's foremost modern novelist...inspired to go back and reread the body of his fiction in the light of his reflections on literature. -- Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

From Publishers Weekly

Italian novelist and short story writer Calvino has been accused of making protons, quarks and living cells talk as if they were people, but here he defends his approach as a kind of animism attuned to the way the universe works. His fascination with myth is evident in pieces on Ovid's Metamorphoses and the separate odysseys that make up Homer's Odyssey. Three intertwined essays on French utopian socialist Fourier present him as a precursor of Women's Lib, a satirist and visionary thinker whose scheme for a society in which each person's desires could be satisfied deserves to be taken seriously. In other pieces, Calvino brings a fresh, unpredictable approach to why we should reread the classics, how cinema and comic strips influence writers, and the cartoon universe of Saul Steinberg. His message is that writers need to establish erotic communion with the humdrum objects of everyday reality. First serial to New York Times Book Review and New York Review of Books. (October
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (October 21, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156932504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156932509
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #813,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alain on July 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's Calvino, which should be enough of an argument for this book by merely invoking the name. But what is valuable here is not Calvino worship, but a much needed voice from the not so distant past that argues the ways that literature is something more than summer beach reading or a way to make life fulfilling. There is a life-giving quality to deeply consuming literature, and an a thoughtful digesting of Calvino's views (along with a buffet of many others), can help you understand the necessity of Literature across the broad table of current modern life demands.

Literature does not need to be the main course for everyone, but removing literature from one's intellectual diet is like saying "I don't eat anything green." You'll inevitably end up sick without it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By jafrank on March 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
As usual, Calvino does not disappoint. The writing is intelligent, and always dynamic, and he has this playful sensibility which really comes through in his non fiction work. "Why read the classics?" I found especially resonant and gratifying since I studied them in grad school. He just brings such a fresh, lively perspective to everything he writes about, heck, he almost made me want to read Dickens again in 'the novel as spectacle'
Note: a lot of the pieces from section II can also be found in his collection "Why read the classics?" which is also great
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