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Italo Calvino: Marcovaldo, ovvero le stagioni in città (Marcovaldo or The Seasons in the City)

This novel or, rather, set of twenty related stories, brings us back to the present and to a more realistic, though ultimately whimsical theme. Marcovaldo is an Italian peasant who lives in the dirty city (presumably Turin) where he works, with his wife and six children. Though he lives in the city, Marcovaldo loves nature and its beauties and is constantly seeking it out. The twenty stories, representing the different seasons over a five year span, tell of Marcovaldo’s quest for nature. For example, in the first summer story, he decides to be out in nature and sleep on a park bench – where he is disturbed by traffic lights, night workers, the street cleaning services, a fire hydrant. Next year, he decides to use wasp stings to cure rheumatisms but getting the wasp stings is not so easy. He goes to see a film set in India but when he comes out of the cinema, it is very foggy and he gets lost and ends up on a plane going to Bombay. It’s all well done but still a little too whimsical for me but the point is well made.

Publishing history

First published 1963 by Einaudi
First published in English 1983 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich