Cosimo, a young Italian nobleman of the 18th century, rebels against parental authority by climbing into the trees and remaining there for the rest of his life. He adapts efficiently to an arboreal existence—hunts, sows crops, plays games with earth-bound friends, fights forest fires, solves engineering problems, and even manages to have love affairs. From his perch in the trees, Cosimo sees the age of Voltaire pass by and a new century dawn.
That’s what is says on the back cover of the Harvest edition of Italo Calvino’s, The Baron in the Trees. I have only started reading and the imaginative fantasy has me captivated. Cosimo takes for the trees early on so the adventure has already begun.
We mentioned Calvino in an earlier post. As a member of OULIPO, he was certainly surrounded by more experimental approaches to the novel. Several works by Calvino follow a structural approach to the narrative and others are more like very imaginative retellings of famous old fantasy stories which Calvino made up himself. A delightful adjunct to his personal folklore is his collection titled Italian Folktales (not to be missed).
Other titles by Calvino include:
- Il sentiero dei nidi di rag no (The Path to the Nest of Spiders)
- Il visconte dimezzato (The Cloven Viscount)
- La formica argentina (The Argentine Ant)
- Fiabe Italiane (Italian Folktales)
- Il baron rampant (The Baron in the Trees)
- La speculazione edilizia (A Plunge into Real Estate)
- l cavaliere inesistente (The Nonexistent Knight)
- La giornata d’uno scrutatore (The Watcher)
- Marcovaldo ovvero le stagioni in città (Marcovaldo or the Seasons in the City)
- La nuvola di smog (Smog)
- Le cosmicomiche (Cosmicomics)
- Ti con zero (t zero)
- Il castello dei destini incrociati (The Castle of Crossed Destinies)
- Gli amori difficili (Difficult Loves)
- Le città invisibili (Invisible Cities)
- Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore (If on a winter’s night a traveler)
- Palomar (Mr. Palomar)
It got me through grad school, but now my Italian is mostly non-existent. You, however, might want to read these works in the original Italian. Pour the wine and go for it!