Italo Calvino: Eros and Language


"Tommasina Gabriele's critical text addresses the paucity of intertextual studies on the erotic in Calvino's work. While Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore and Le cosmicomiche have generated some attention to the erotic, eros nonetheless remains virtually unexplored in its widest scope - despite its prevalence and centrality in the majority of Calvino's narratives, from his Racconti to I nostri antenati to his posthumous, unfinished Sotto il sole giaguaro. Perhaps for this reason such texts as Gli amori difficili and Sotto il sole giaguaro have been discussed less by critics than many of Calvino's other neorealist or postmodern fictions. Gabriele's study begins with an assessment of the critical context in which Calvino has been framed and proceeds to the analysis of several articles in which Calvino addresses the erotic in literature. Using these articles and a pivotal interview as a theoretical base, Gabriele offers an explanation for the neglect of the erotic motif as well as a theory of eros in Calvino's work. She uncovers the apparent contradiction that while Calvino repeatedly advocated - throughout his career of forty-plus years - a precise language, this call for precision did not extend to erotic subject matter, where Calvino sometimes felt that "direct representation" was virtually impossible. Gabriele finds that in Calvino the challenge of erotic representation is linked to the complexity of the writer's role, especially as articulated in Calvino's famous article, "Cibernetica e fantasmi."" "Through this erotic lens, Gabriele examines Il barone rampante and the stories of Le cosmicomiche, Gli amori difficili, and Sotto il sole giaguaro, which establish the erotic as a fundamental and usually positive aspect of human identity and interaction. In Le cosmicomiche, she unveils a "spiral" movement which functions both as a symbol of Calvino's erotic theory and as a symbol of Calvino's circumlocutory approach to it. In Gli amori, she explores the difficulty in expressing the erotic, while offering an alternative interpretation - a "positive" one - of these often criticized characters and stories. Finally, Gabriele identifies the magnitude of the erotic motif in "Sotto il sole giaguaro." Calvino reveals the negative side of eros in this brilliant, ambitious, and tightly knit story which interweaves sexual, historical, religious, cultural, and artistic struggles for power." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Rutherford, NJ
Publication year:
  • 1994