Six Memos for the Next Millennium (Penguin Modern Classics) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2009/5/28
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Italo Calvino was due to deliver the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard in 1985-86, but they were left unfinished at his death. The surviving drafts explore of the concepts of Lightness, Quickness, Multiplicity, Exactitude and Visibility (Constancy was to be the sixth) in serious yet playful essays that reveal Calvino's debt to the comic strip and the folktale. With his customary imagination and grace, he sought to define the virtues of the great literature of the past in order to shape the values of the future. This collection is a brilliant précis of the work of a great writer whose legacy will endure through the millennium he addressed.
'Calvino will continue to glitter, this strange, lonely prospector in the universe of words, well into the next millennium and after, a master in the empire of the imagination' - Ian Thomson, Independent on Sunday 'A brilliant, original approach to literature, a key to Calvino's own work and a thoroughly delightful and illuminating commentary on some of the world's greatest writing' San Francisco Chronicle 'A rather wonderful little book, full of wit and erudition' Daily Telegraph商品の説明をすべて表示する
In the lectures themselves, Calvino provides the kind of insight and fascination with the making of literature that fuels so many of his best books. Rather than come across as a manifesto of his own brilliance, as the premise may sound, Calvino spends a lot of time in admiration of the work of other writers, from classics like Ovid and Dante to colleagues and contemporaries, like Francis Perec and Douglas R. Hofstadter. The lectures are of course sometimes punctuated with personal details about his own writing processes, but I found them very inviting and revealing about the ideas he was trying to point out.
Each lecture dedicates itself to an aspect of literature that Calvino finds crucial: "Lightness," or the aspect of language that speaks directly to a reader and is not always weighed down with intellectual metaphor but with direct communication; "Quickness," or the immediacy of literature - the way it cuts through random detail to get to the necessary; "Exactitude," or the precision of language (and when it needs imprecision); "Visibility," or the power of imagery to convey ideas; and "Multiplicity," or the complexity of content.
Calvino is a writer who has always presented a kind of fascinating enigma. His works is spectacularly visual, and while crucially uncategorizable in its sense of being not easy to nail down in the area of metaphor or theme (something that Calvino no doubt worked quite strenuously at, clear when he talks about a poem's meaning in "Exactitude" as being "not fixed, not definitive, not hardened into mineral immobility, but alive as an organism"), it is also quite accessible and always an enjoyable read. Calvino mastered the art of experimentalism that did not read as though one needed to be schooled in the traditions of literature to understand his intents. Though Calvino clearly wants to offer his lectures as guides for the necessities of literature for posterity, it is also a manifesto on the man's own aesthetic, though it is not a manifesto that demands the agreement of others, or the demand that others follow in his footsteps. Though Calvino does have moments of criticism, as when he accuses schools of dispensing "the culture of the mediocre," which I take to mean the conveying of literature as something with set meaning that we must all learn and emulate (or at least parrot back), and also directs a barb or two at the publishing industry when he supports experimentalism with the following caveat: "The demands of the publishing business are a fetish that must not be allowed to keep us from trying out new forms." In this lecture series, Calvino presents himself quite wise and worldly, but also quite direct and earnest. A reading of this work at the start of any literature course on almost any level of schooling might provide a stiff reminder that literature is a work of passion, not just analysis, and it also works in the realm of paradox, as Calvino himself presents--that it is structure in literature that is needed to make it transcend structure, that one needs to be as aware of the lack of success in literature as much as success to see the stuff of great literature.
Calvino's last `memo,' "Consistency," was never written, but I could only imagine where he would have gone with it, which was always a strength of Calvino's work. The last lecture seems to bring to a full circle many of things he brings up through the series, but Calvino's work always found a way to extend beyond the full circle. Perhaps, in the end, the consistency needs to be ours, to make sure that this wisdom does not go to waste.
This volume is constituted by five Charles Eliot Norton lectures Calvino gave in 1985, shortly before he died. They are titled "Lightness," "Quickness," "Exactitude," "Visibility," and "Multiplicity." In each, Calvino explores the invisible working of language, whether it is the expression of mythmakers, poets or scientists -- ancients (Ovid and Lucretius), early moderns (Bocaccio, Dante and Galileo) and contemporaries ((Borges, Kafka and Kundera). But as well, he reveals his own thoughts about his own writings. For amateurs like myself, I also was introduced to writers I'd either knew casually or not at all - Cavalcanti (whom I discovered while reading essays by Ezra Pound more than a decade ago) and Montale and Leopardi.
What is most exciting is Calvino's ability to uncover what is hidden in the work of such modern writers as Jorge Luis Borges, whose work has fascinated me, but which I've never been confident I penetrated. As a result of reading Six Memos, I plan to return to Borges' works soon, but not until I've read some more of Calvino's fiction, including Cosmcomics, which I am currently reading, with great wonder.
After reading Six Memos for the first time, I've now read it a second time, more slowly than the first time, and plan to read it a third, even more slowly. Six Memos reveals to the reader the challenges of any writer to be able to capture the truth.
For any reader who also wishes to understand the magic of poetry, this is, in my judgment the best book I've ever read. It not only opens doors to anyone interested in the poetic art, it provides a set of criteria by which one may judge good poetry from bad.
I've also sent the title to fiction- and poetry- reading friends, anticipating that they will find it as exciting.
A wonderful book, a marvelous book. This rating is all about the publisher.
The Kindle e-book has enough typos to make a fourth grade teacher weep. 1 have to believe no one at Random H0use Proofread this even once aHer chopping up a print- ed copy and feeding it through their "make an ebook" mach- ine? There are hundreds of these little distractions. The book ends: "Copyright © 1988 by the Estate of halo Calvino." halo and his wondrous ideas deserve better.