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The Castle of Crossed Destinies
     

The Castle of Crossed Destinies

3.3 6
by Italo Calvino, William Weaver (Translator)
 

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A series of short, fantastic narratives inspired by fifteenth-century tarot cards and their archetypical images. Full-color and black-and-white reproductions of tarot cards. Translated by William Weaver.A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

Overview

A series of short, fantastic narratives inspired by fifteenth-century tarot cards and their archetypical images. Full-color and black-and-white reproductions of tarot cards. Translated by William Weaver.A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

Editorial Reviews

John Gardner
A shamelessly original work of art...elegant, beautiful in the way mathematic proofs can be beautiful, and beautiful in the sense that it is the careful statement of an artist we have learned to trust....Like a true work of art, [it] takes great risks...and despite its risk, wins hands down.
New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780156154550
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/16/1979
Series:
Harvest Book Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
140
Sales rank:
481,061
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

ITALO CALVINO (1923–1985) attained worldwide renown as one of the twentieth century's greatest storytellers. Born in Cuba, he was raised in San Remo, Italy, and later lived in Turin, Paris, Rome, and elsewhere. Among his many works are Invisible Cities, If on a winter's night a traveler, The Baron in the Trees, and other novels, as well as numerous collections of fiction, folktales, criticism, and essays. His works have been translated into dozens of languages.

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Castle of Crossed Destinies 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
PhoenixFalls More than 1 year ago
This is kind of a splendid book. It is demanding; the reader must engage with it, examining each card as it is revealed and disputing its meaning with the narrator. It also helps to be well-versed in folklore and literature, both because recognizing many of the tales makes them more comprehensible and because Calvino's style is a strange, almost challenging mix of archaic and modern literary styles that sits uneasily on genre shelves. It actually reminds me quite a bit of Catherynne M. Valente's two-volume novel The Orphan's Tales; enough, in fact, that I wonder if she was inspired by this work. Neither novel is quite a novel, per se, but more a collection of folk tales (or short stories in the form of folk tales) wound around each other through a magical framing device; but while many readers would probably enjoy the books more by reading them that way, they ARE more than the sum of their parts. Both site themselves within and comment on the greater body of world mythology; in both the narrator is just as much a character to figure out as any of the people he/she is discussing, and it is the narrator's story that is the heart of the book. Calvino's book is not perfect; the first section, in the castle, is quite a bit more polished and satisfying as a puzzle than the second half in the tavern. The stories in the first half fit together organically, each leading into the next one and fitting together with all the others that came before in the crossword puzzle effect mentioned in the description; in the second half Calvino could not bring order to the chaos of cards, and while he made that chaos part of the novel's structure it still failed to satisfy. But despite (or possibly because of) its failings it is splendid. Glorious even. Pure, inventive literary fun.
dubliner 28 days ago
I had really high hopes for this book, and honestly, I was just a tad disappointed, but that’s more on me than the actual writing. I was looking for something with loads of plot, and substance, and while this is interesting it felt at times a bit contrived. I love the tarot, and the lore of it, and was really looking forward to this story. The crux of the story is that a bunch of people are sitting around a table and silently explaining how they got to this castle via the tarot cards. The narrator then tries to piece together the stories these folks are telling through the cards, and goes to great lengths to assure the reader that perhaps there are pieces missing and that it is just his view of their own stories. Interesting principle, but on the whole it delves too deeply into the realm of the ‘unreliable narrator’, where I as a reader was left with the question of ‘What really is the truth here’? This book is actually two different stories; the Castle of Crossed Destinies, where everyone is gathered in a castle and talking about their stories, and the Tavern of Crossed Destinies, where the tarot cards are used to explain the stories of Shakespeare and Oedipus Rex. The latter seems contrived and bland, whereas the former is missing something. There’s nothing there to make the reader truly feel for or care much about the characters, and so the whole story seems like a drop in the bucket whereas it could have been so much more. But, I soldier on to read all of Calvino’s works, because for what it’s worth I do enjoy his writing style and I think he has very important things to say, even if they don’t always fall on the mark.
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