Fantastic Tales: Visionary and Everyday

Fantastic Tales: Visionary and Everyday

by Italo Calvino
     
 

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“The true theme of the nineteenth-century fantastic tale is the reality of what we see: to believe or not to believe in phantasmagoric apparitions, to glimpse another world, enchanted or infernal, behind everyday appearances.” — from Calvino’s introduction to Fantastic Tales
 
Vampires, ghosts, and other

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Overview

“The true theme of the nineteenth-century fantastic tale is the reality of what we see: to believe or not to believe in phantasmagoric apparitions, to glimpse another world, enchanted or infernal, behind everyday appearances.” — from Calvino’s introduction to Fantastic Tales
 
Vampires, ghosts, and other horrors abound in this collection of nineteenth-century fantastic literature, selected and edited by Italo Calvino, a twentieth-century master of the speculative. This posthumously published anthology of enchanting, uncanny, terrifying, and immortally entertaining short stories includes E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Sandman,” Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose,” Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Bottle Imp,” and many more, each with an introduction by Calvino. Fantastic Tales is a delight for the mind and a feast for the senses.

“Impressive and utterly pleasing . . . Each story [Calvino] picks is absorbing, unique, and continually surprising.” — Los Angeles Times

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
An attractive compendium of 26 American and European 19th- century tales that was originally published in Italy in 1983, shortly before Calvino's death. Altogether, it's a curious mix, prefaced by a charmingly learned Introduction that elucidates the distinction the subtitle proclaims, and enhanced by disarmingly personal headnotes to each story. English-language readers will note overfamiliar contributions from several masters, including Scott, Hawthorne, Gogol, Stevenson, and Poe, among others. But there are also several fortuitous, little-known choices, including Philacrète Chasles's strange blend of folklore and surrealism, "The Eye with No Lid"; Henry James's underrated "The Friends of the Friends" (a partial precursor of his masterly "The Turn of the Screw"); and the pseudonymous Vernon Lee's magnificent tale ("A Lasting Love") about a dead beauty who reaches from beyond the grave to destroy men seduced by her painted image. Several flourishing literary traditions are un- or under-represented: For example, the sole Scandinavian choice is Hans Christian Andersen's wispy "The Shadow" (one wonders if Calvino knew the infinitely superior storytelling of Selma Lagerlöf and Jonas Lie). Other omissions are equally puzzling, making this an entertaining selection, though hardly a comprehensive or authoritative one.

From the Publisher
"Calvino possesses the power of seeing into the deepest recesses of human minds and then bringing their dreams back to life."--Salman Rushdie

"Provides a grand entrance to the stange logic of the tale-like form, its obsession with the coexistence of multiple realities."--Bookforum

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780544152090
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
08/04/2015
Pages:
608
Sales rank:
512,585
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.47(d)

Meet the Author

ITALO CALVINO’s superb storytelling gifts earned him international renown and a reputation as “one of the world's best fabulists” (New York Times Book Review ). He is the author of numerous works of fiction, as well as essays, criticism, and literary anthologies. Born in Cuba in 1923, Calvino was raised in Italy, where he lived most of his life. At the time of his death, in Siena in 1985, he was the most translated contemporary Italian writer.

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