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This is excellent The title of the book is an unusual and deceptive choice, Hermit In Paris is a very short piece, and not anywhere as interesting as American Diary 1959 1960, which is superb, comprising half the book.The thirteen page essay The Duce s Portraits is worth the price of the book alone.Calvino spent the first twenty years of my life with Mussolini s face always in view, in the sense that his portrait was hung in every classroom, as well as in every public building or office Th This is excellent The title of the book is an unusual and deceptive choice, Hermit In Paris is a very short piece, and not anywhere as interesting as American Diary 1959 1960, which is superb, comprising half the book.The thirteen page essay The Duce s Portraits is worth the price of the book alone.Calvino spent the first twenty years of my life with Mussolini s face always in view, in the sense that his portrait was hung in every classroom, as well as in every public building or office The essay concentrates on only official images, since no others circulated then official images in portraits, statues, films made by his Luce Cinema Institute the cinema newsreels of the time , illustrated newspapers I don t know if that was the last time that Mussolini wore a top hat it could have been, because by now, having secured the Church s consensus, he could start putting Italy into uniform This shift in Fascist style at least as it might have been perceived in the provinces I would date to the tenth anniversary of the Fascist revolution, 1932 Another necessary component was of course the prohibition of any criticism or sarcasm Achilles Starace 1889 1945 Hard line secretary of the Fascist party 1931 39, he was obsessed with external trappings such as Fascist uniforms, the Roman salute and the use of Voi instead of Lei He was shot by partisans and his body was hung up alongside Mussolini s in Piazzale Loreto in Milan in April 1945 Behind the Success It took me a long time to realize that what counts is not your intention but what you actually achieve ContentsStranger in TurinThe Writer and the CityQuestionnaire, 1956American Diary 1959 1960The Cloven Communism Political Autobiography of a Young ManA Letter in Two VersionsObjective Biographical NoticeHermit in ParisWhere I Was on 25th April 1945DialectThe Situation in 1978Was I a Stalinist Too The Summer of 56The Duce s PortraitsBehind the SuccessI Would Like to Be Mercutio.My City Is New YorkInterview with Maria CortiI have to give him five stars for his honesty.I haveto say on these various essays Hermit In Paris was a sweet find, for the cost of 3, an ex library discard from a travellers bookshelf in the Tourist Information Office at Emerald, Queensland The book was already on my TRL decent travelogue in the US good WWII memoir materials plenty of insight into his writerly process and theoretical orientation nice to see a fellow leftist who is uncomfortable with the eastern bloc but takes it seriously. I enjoyed this read, especially the Questionnaire 1956, American Diary 1959 1960, Behind the Success and Interview with Maria Corti The Political Autobiography of a Young Man lost me at times but it was still interesting In the American Diary section it was divided into many subjects The Actor s Studio, How a Big Bookshop Works, A Beatnik Party, The Chinese New Year, TV Dinners, The Most Important Young Writers in America, Random House, Orion Publishers, Wall Street and so on Some of his opi I enjoyed this read, especially the Questionnaire 1956, American Diary 1959 1960, Behind the Success and Interview with Maria Corti The Political Autobiography of a Young Man lost me at times but it was still interesting In the American Diary section it was divided into many subjects The Actor s Studio, How a Big Bookshop Works, A Beatnik Party, The Chinese New Year, TV Dinners, The Most Important Young Writers in America, Random House, Orion Publishers, Wall Street and so on Some of his opinions or observations on such topics were very short, a small paragraph, sometimes longer Also, at times his opinion of America and Americans wasn t too high and you realize that 95 per cent of America is a country of ugliness, oppressiveness and sameness, in short of relentless monotony Calvino 87 or but these young girls are surely as far from Dostoevsky as the moon Calvino 42 I m sure there was some truth in what he said, at times, but I just liked it because it gave me an idea of what was happening or what it would have been liked to be there at that time His favorite place was New York hands down Reading the interviews, were they ask him about his work or influences, was highly interesting I d mostly read Calvino s novels and short stories in the past, but these documents offer an evenintriguing look into his life and experiences Being mid century and Italian there are some experiences that Calvino underwent, like helping the resistance to the Fascists, that make him stand out I loved his observations about the United States from his trip there, in a diary that makes up most of this volume Ordinarily this kind of thing would be for the die hard Calvino nerds, but there I d mostly read Calvino s novels and short stories in the past, but these documents offer an evenintriguing look into his life and experiences Being mid century and Italian there are some experiences that Calvino underwent, like helping the resistance to the Fascists, that make him stand out I loved his observations about the United States from his trip there, in a diary that makes up most of this volume Ordinarily this kind of thing would be for the die hard Calvino nerds, but there is something in the perspective on writing, translating, and living in different societies that is excellent enough to warrant the read ( Free Kindle ) ♫ Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings ☪ From one of modern literature s most captivating and elusive masters comes a posthumous volume of thoughtful, elegant, and quick witted autobiographical writings, all previously unpublished in English Here is Italo Calvino paying homage to his literary influences and tracing the evolution of his signature style Here are his reminiscences of Italy s antifascist resistance and the frenzy of politics and ideas of the postwar era The longest and most delightfully revealing section of the book is Calvino s diary of his travels in the United States inand , which show him marveling at color TV, wrinkling his nose at the Beats, and reeling at the outpouring of racial hatred attending a civil rights demonstration in Alabama Overflowing with insight and amusement, Hermit in Paris is an invaluable addition to the Calvino legacy I hoped that by reading this I could better understand some of the ideas behind the incredible words he writes in Invisible Cities Throughout Hermit in Paris there are passages about Calvino s development as a writer and as a political activist The most enlightening passages are ones in which he ponders both of these developments in relation to place To stay in one place you stay away from it In Paris, watching Italy What sort of a trick is this Among the Invisible Cities there is one I hoped that by reading this I could better understand some of the ideas behind the incredible words he writes in Invisible Cities Throughout Hermit in Paris there are passages about Calvino s development as a writer and as a political activist The most enlightening passages are ones in which he ponders both of these developments in relation to place To stay in one place you stay away from it In Paris, watching Italy What sort of a trick is this Among the Invisible Cities there is one on stilts, and its inhabitants watch their own absence from on high Maybe to understand who I am a I have to observe a point where I could be but am not 189.Reflecting on his writing while traveling in the United States Travel books are a useful, modest and yet self contained way of writing literature and in such books you can express something that goes beyond the description of places one has seen, a relationship between yourself and reality, a process of knowledge 125 He continues Everyone will say that travel distracts you from that horizon of set objects that constitute your own poetic world, it disperses that absorbed concentration which is a condition one of the conditions conducive to literary creation But in the end, even if it is a dispersal, what does it matter In human terms, it is better to travel than to stay at home First of all live, and then philosophize and write 126.Passages about his political development are filled with unfamiliar references I m sure it would have been interesting to a reader familiar with Italian political history But Calvino s grappling with the reality of Stalinism as a challenge to his commitment to Communism is honest and enlightening He writes of both the attraction to and trappings of Stalinism one had to exclude many things from one s horizon Communism was a narrow funnel one had to pas through in order to discover an unlimited universe on the other side.Stalinism possessed the power and the limitations of all great simplifications The vision for the world that it took into consideration was very compressed and schematic, but inside there were choices and one could struggle to make one s choices prevail, choices which allowed back into play many values which one thought excluded 196.And, as a final condemnation Stalinism appeared to establish the primacy of practice over ideological principles, but in fact it twisted ideology in order to ideologize something that functioned only through force 197.The tension Calvino feels within Stalinism is palpable when he thinks about his political views, again, in relation to place whenever I happened to travel to some Socialist country, I felt profoundly uncomfortable, foreign, hostile But when the train brought me back to Italy, whenever I crossed back over the border, I would ask myself but here, in Italy, in this Italy, what else could I be but a Communist 203.What an illuminating an honest reflection on political thinking Calvino, in Italy, the place in which he s been a part of struggles, of movement, in a place which he intimately knows, is committed to the movement that he knows to make sense How difficult, disillusioning, heartbreaking, it must be to see twisted incarnations of that movement in other places Having grown up in a post 1989 world, it is sometimes difficult to appreciate the difficult position democratic socialists inhabited between capitalism and authoritarian socialism Calvino s words dramatized that dilemma for me Hermit in Paris is not really a memoir or autobiographyit is a collection of diary entries, letters, essays and interviews that help to build a picture of Italo Calvino At least half of the book is taken up with Calvino s American journey, in which he travelled all around the country, from New York to Texas with lots of stop offs in between It was also interesting to read his perspective of the violent clashes and racial tensions in the South in the early 1960s He recalls being horrifi Hermit in Paris is not really a memoir or autobiographyit is a collection of diary entries, letters, essays and interviews that help to build a picture of Italo Calvino At least half of the book is taken up with Calvino s American journey, in which he travelled all around the country, from New York to Texas with lots of stop offs in between It was also interesting to read his perspective of the violent clashes and racial tensions in the South in the early 1960s He recalls being horrified by the scenes he witnessed where white thugs laughed and joked with each other while they taunted black church goers leaving their church blocking the paths of young women and spitting on the ground in front of them.My favourite chapter was the title essay Hermit in Paris Calvino lived there with his wife and daughter in later years, despite still owning a home in Italy which he would commute to and from His observations about the city, the traffic and his daily routine were insightful and entertaining to read This is an essay I look forward to re reading in the future.Overall rating 4 5 stars I was in Italy for the Terra Madre conference that Slow Food holds every two years as books go, the Slow Food folks have a couple of good ones to read, especially Carlo Petrini s book about founding this wonderful international movement , and while walking MILES through Turin in the evening, I came across a bookstore that had a floor of English titles, and of course, a entire shelf of Calvino, who adopted Turin as his Italian homebase before moving to Paris.So, when in Rome.I have read a few I was in Italy for the Terra Madre conference that Slow Food holds every two years as books go, the Slow Food folks have a couple of good ones to read, especially Carlo Petrini s book about founding this wonderful international movement , and while walking MILES through Turin in the evening, I came across a bookstore that had a floor of English titles, and of course, a entire shelf of Calvino, who adopted Turin as his Italian homebase before moving to Paris.So, when in Rome.I have read a few of Calvino s books and enjoyed them Why Read the Classics , Six Memos for the Millenium wonderful lectures he never gave and in fiction, Invisible Cities As a Cuban born Italian with scientist parents, growing up in Facist Italy, he grew up with World Wars and watching the American Century really take off, which made for a fascinating mind and a skepticism that is necessary for any essayist This book was put together after he died and is wonderful The descriptions of America like of the smelly Beats are pinpoint and yet all of it is poignant as his letters back to friends show his loneliness but also his practicality of a staff member of publishing company I think anyone that starts with this and then move on to his fiction will find a new favorite By revisiting various interviews and diary entries this collection of biographical flotsam and jetsam builds through repetition and the gradual accretion of detail a not wholly unexpected but appropriately postmodern portrait of the Italian author, Italo Cavino, as a writer who was simultaneously both playful and deeply sincere. Whether to four star, whether to three Three falls short of a recommendation and, in the end, Hermit in Paris doesn t quite cut it It s too much a mess from which enlightening snippets need to be extracted too incoherent too much the lucky bag.Calvino is a writer who has fascinated me since my youth, and one I ve not visited for way too long Perhaps this is a work which would have read better without so much distance on my part but then again, perhaps not It s as if, in its compilatio Whether to four star, whether to three Three falls short of a recommendation and, in the end, Hermit in Paris doesn t quite cut it It s too much a mess from which enlightening snippets need to be extracted too incoherent too much the lucky bag.Calvino is a writer who has fascinated me since my youth, and one I ve not visited for way too long Perhaps this is a work which would have read better without so much distance on my part but then again, perhaps not It s as if, in its compilation, someone were given access to an attic to dust off artefacts and make a collection representative of the owner The portrait ends up blurred, and not a little skewed.We have Calvino answering for himself in several interviews the odd thumbnail sketch for some purpose or another andextended sections which serve some greater or lesser purpose in giving us the man Much of the first half of the book is dominated by a series of letters Calvino wrote to his publisher during a trip to America from 1959 to 1960 There was a sense of reading personal emails between friends, such privileged access giving us perhaps a little too much of Calvino as a womaniser for example when, in reality, that s the sort of thing we may find ourselves writing about to friends when not anticipating broader public consumption of our words That s a criticism that extends out through the entire work Context is needed Without it, some of the portraiture becomes skewed too much focus on this, too little on that It doesn t help that context is only provided at the end of each section once we ve read it, necessitating a revisit in recollection to get a sense of what it really is we ve just read.It s no surprise reading the work that Calvino had a great deal of difficulty penning a formal autobiography Again and again in the book, Calvino stresses the need for distance from the subject if he is to write about it successfully, and in writing himself we may feel he stood way too far back, theorising about himself as an astronomer may theorise about some distant galaxy captured as fuzz on a photograph Indeed, we may even be given to wonder whether Calvino, in considering himself, ends up extracting too much detail from too little evidence while missing the big picture altogether.Some sections arestraightforward and revelatory, such as his thoughts made comfortable by the distance of time upon his youthful communism, and it would be wrong to say these are rare in the work as a whole However, in the end it s all too random There are diamonds here, but they re not laid out for us We have to mine for them A work to be recommended for what the reader may learn about Calvino, yes but equally not to be recommended for what he or she may feel has been missed along the way Here an arm to the smallest scar there a leg with every hair accounted for but never the man as a whole