Il Sentiero dei nidi di ragno (1947) The Path to the Nest of Spiders
The Nostri antenati (Our Ancestors) trilogy: Il visconte dimezzato (The Cloven Viscont: 1952); Il barone rampante (The Baron in the Trees, 1957); Il Cavaliere nonesistente (The Nonexistent Knight, 1962)
Cosmocimiche (Cosmicomics: 1965) Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore (If on a Winter’s Night, a Traveller: 1979)
Fiabe Italiane (Italian Folktales), Einaudi,1956
200 tales - arranged in the order of NW to NE and then to south ending with Sardinia and Corsica
2. A national collection paralleled to the establishment of national identity in the postwar period. 1. Expansion of folklore studies and a necessity of national collection
What kind of audience? Collection of tales from all Italian regions and writing for all Italians
Why was the task entrusted to Calvino? Calvino’s taste for fairytales and adventure stories Taste for allegorical form of folktale
Rapiditá (Quickness) ‘[attracted] to the genre of folktales not as a result of loyalty to an ethnic tradition … nor as a result of nostalgia for things read as a child…’ but rather because of an ‘interest in style and structure, in the economy, rhythm, and hard logic in which they are told.’ Lezioni americani ( Six Memos for the Next Millennium 1985)
Problems faced by Calvino Problem 1: Uneven regional availability of tales Importance of Sicily 1.More stories thanks to Cocchiara and Pitré 2. Less foreign influence: demonstration of Italian spirit Agatuzza Messia
Pitrè’s Description of Storyteller Agatuzza Messia (1804-?) ‘Anything but beautiful, she has facile speech, efficacious phrases, an attractive manner of telling, whence you divine her extraordinary memory and the sallies of her natural wit. Messia already reckons her seventy years, and is a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. As a child, she was told by her grandmother an infinity of tales which she had learned from her mother, and she in turn from her grandfather; she had a good memory and never forgot them. […] She cannot read, but she knows so many things that no one else knows, and repeats them with a propriety of tongue that is a pleasure to hear. This is a characteristic to which I call my readers' attention. If the tale turns upon a vessel which has to make a voyage, she utters, without remarking it, or without seeming to do so, sailors' phrases, and words which only seamen and those who have to do with seamen are acquainted with. If the heroine arrives, poor and desolate, at a baker's and takes a place there, Messia's language is so completely that of the trade that you would believe that the baking of bread had been her business, whereas at Palermo this occupation, an ordinary one in the families of the large and small communes of the island, is that of professional bakers alone… The reader will only find the cold and naked words; but Messia's narration consists, more than in words, in the restless movement of the eyes, in the waving of the arms, in the gestures of the whole person, which rises, walks around the room, bends, and is again uplifted, making her voice now soft, now excited, now fearful, now sweet, now hoarse, as it portrays the voices of the various personages, and the action which these are performing.’
Problem 2: The question of dialect and the difficulty in giving a stylistic and methodological unity to such a collection of varied stories. Expressivity and vitality of local dialects Efforts to preserve local taste and colour while maintaining a stylistic unity.
Problem 3: Calvino as writer and philologist/translator “Calvino does not forget he is a sophisticated writer and scholar acting on the heterogeneous image of the Italian folktale as it was offered by anthologies written in dialect and already removed from the oral folk context. His collection reflects, quite consciously, neither the perspective of a specialized observer nor that of the subordinate observed world, but that of an amateur diver-writer who is open to risking the unexpected in a submerged, both familiar and mysterious, world.” Cristina Bacchilega
What Calvino did. Changes and retelling Preservation and modernization Make tales more interesting for modern taste and accessible
Translation: 166 The Berber’s Timepiece (Inland near Palermo)
Calvino’s eight narrative interventions 1.‘Acceleration’ of the tempi in storytelling including the shortening of episodes and descriptions, the elimination of narrative redundancies
2. ‘Contamination’ of tales: by integrating two or more versions; by borrowing a detail from another version or from another source; or by grafting one folk tale onto another 3. ‘Emphasis’ of a detail, suspense, description and element.
4. ‘Addition’ of details, phrases, remarks, specifications and narrative links 5. ‘Omission’ of a finale 6. ‘Invention’ of details, verses, names, tones or conclusion. 7. ‘Substitution’ of a detail, the final remark, and replacement for another. 8. ‘Variation’ of nonsense rhymes or verses
Conclusion Calvino as a creative storyteller By freely changing and altering folklore texts, he revived them for his readers – non-folklore specialist Italians. Defining time for Italian national identity in the post WWII period?
116 ‘The False Grandmother’ read by John Turturro Fiabe Italiane from Abruzzo Fiabe Italiane from Abruzzo
Questions: What are the main, recurring motifs of the stories? Did you notice how universal some of the stories are? If we assume that consciously or unconsciously Calvino was defining Italian identity what was it?
23: Animal Speech (Mantua) A man who understands animal speech will be Pope – a European superstition. The episode about the horse informing to Bobo his father order of murdering him – Calvino’s invention
27: ‘The Land Where No One Dies’ Various lengths of men’s beard were added by Calvino ‘Urashima Taro’ (Japan) ‘Lankeshan Ji’ (Rotten Ax Handle: China), ‘The Dragon Woman of Lake Dong Ting’ (China)
148: Gráttula- Beddáttula (Palermo) told by Agatuzza Messia Sicilian Cinderella Story – No slipper motif No moralizing like those in Charles Perrault’s ‘La petite pantoufle de verre’ (1697) and Brothers Grimm fairytales. ‘Hachikazuki’ from Japanese Otogizôshi
150: ‘Pippina the Serpent’ (Palermo) told by Agatuzza Messia ‘Dojoji Engi’ (Japan) 160: ‘The Dove Girl’ (Palermo) Calvino intervened with the tale heavily changing and adding narrative and descriptions. ‘Hagoromo’ (Japan) – a celestial maiden is compelled to be the wife of the man who hides her feather robe.
165: Jesus and St. Peter in Sicily (Palermo) St. Peter as a trickster V of the tales comes from Agatuzza Messia Similarity to Akutagawa Ryunosuke’s ‘Kumo no Ito’ (Spider’s Thread) which is based on a story from Konjaku Monogatari (Tales of the Times Now Past
182: The Mouse with the Long Tail (Caltanisetta) Heterogamy ‘The Frog King’ by Brothers Grimm Storybook of Mouse
Common motifs *Personification of animal, insect, tree, flower *Transformation of humans into monsters / animals vice-versa *Supernatural world and superhuman power *Reward and retribution *Happy ending for the good or smart and death or suffering for the bad or wicked *Why many kings, queens, princes and princesses?