Italo Calvino
Quotations


It is not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear.

Biographical data, even those recorded in the public registers, are the most private things one has, and to declare them openly is rather like facing a psychoanalyst.

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.

The catalogue of forms is endless: until every shape has found its city, new cities will continue to be born. When the forms exhaust their variety and come apart, the end of cities begins.

The unconscious is the ocean of the unsayable, of what has been expelled from the land of language, removed as a result of ancient prohibitions.

The ideal place for me is the one in which it is most natural to live as a foreigner.

Novels as dull as dishwater, with the grease of random sentiments floating on top.

What Romantic terminology called genius or talent or inspiration is nothing other than finding the right road empirically, following one's nose, taking shortcuts.

The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts.

The human race is a zone of living things that should be defined by tracing its confines.

Everything can change, but not the language that we carry inside us, like a world more exclusive and final than one's mother's womb.

The struggle of literature is in fact a struggle to escape from the confines of language; it stretches out from the utmost limits of what can be said; what stirs literature is the call and attraction of what is not in the dictionary.

When politicians and politically minded people pay too much attention to literature, it is a bad sign--a bad sign mostly for literature. . . . But it is also a bad sign when they don't want to hear the word mentioned.

In love, as in gluttony, pleasure is a matter of the utmost precision.

I am prisoner of a gaudy and unlivable present, where all forms of human society have reached an extreme of their cycle and there is no imagining what new forms they may assume.

Myth is the hidden part of every story, the buried part, the region that is still unexplored because there are as yet no words to enable us to get there. . . . Myth is nourished by silence as well as by words.

The satirist is prevented by repulsion from gaining a better knowledge of the world he is attracted to, yet he is forced by attraction to concern himself with the world that repels him.

Traveling, you realize that differences are lost: each city takes to resembling all cities, places exchange their form, order, distances, a shapeless dust cloud invades the continents.

We could say, then, that man is an instrument the world employs to renew its own image constantly.



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