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Working Papers in Romance Languages

Abstract

The unabashed "literariness" of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities makes it an easy target for critics who claim that "wholly literary" worlds cannot be moral ones. Alessia Ricciardi believes that Calvino's late career represents an abandonment of his earlier sense of duty as an intellectual: "Sadly," she explains "Calvino the mature postmodernist became exactly what he feared as a young man, that is to say, a solipsistic thinker removed from the exigencies of history […] his writings uphold an idea of literature as a formalist game that avoids any costly or serious 'human' association." (Ricciardi 1073-1074, emphasis mine). While it is certainly true that Invisible Cities—with its combinatorial, "geometric" structure - can be read as a literary game, it is important to consider the possibility that it may be a very serious game...

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