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Calvino, Italo (Translated by Martin McLaughlin). WHY READ THE CLASSICS? . New York City, NY: Pantheon, 1999. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 278 pages. Fine/Fine.

Retrospective collection of the author's literary essays. One of the greatest books of the 20th century. The first appearance of the title in the United States. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published posthumously, Italo Calvino had been planning the book himself before his sudden death in 1985. The First Edition is now scarce. Presents Italo Calvino's literary criticism in its late, and most acute, stage. It is quite a high-wire act: The ultimate "post-modernist" writer defends the enduring importance of the Western Classical canon. "Why read Italo Calvino's book on the classics? Because it passes his own test for what a classic is and its brisk prose can blast your concept of the word clean of the dusty associations that cling to it. Calvino gives fourteen definitions of 'classic', 'a work which constantly generates a pulviscular cloud of critical discourse around it, but which always shakes the particles off', being probably the most ironic. His sharp essays on Conrad, Dickens, Diderot, Flaubert, Ovid, and others constitute an act of self-criticism, a novelist's imaginative autobiography. Italo Calvino distills a writer's essence in a vivid phrase: Money, for instance, serves as 'the motive force of Balzac's narrative, the true test of feeling in Dickens, but in Mark Twain, money is a game of mirrors, causing vertigo over a void' " (Tim Appelo). An absolute "must-have" title for Italo Calvino collectors. This title is itself a classic. This is one of few copies of the First American Edition/First Printing still available online and is in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a beauty. A rare copy thus. The greatest Italian writer of the 20th century. A fine copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER ITALO CALVINO TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). ISBN 0679415246. $50.00

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