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Fantastic Tales: Visionary and Everyday
by Italo Calvino (Editor)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679415262, Hardcover)The brilliant Italian writer Italo Calvino (1923-1985) compiled Fantastic Tales: Visionary and Everyday, a historical overview of great fantastic literature of the 19th century. Many of his 26 selections are from well-known authors (Sir Walter Scott, Honoré de Balzac, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Ivan Turgenev, Guy de Maupassant, Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, and H.G. Wells), but Calvino largely avoided their best-known stories; the only inclusions likely to be familiar to many Americans are Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," and H.G. Wells's "The Country of the Blind." The remaining contributors range from moderately well-known to obscure. So the reader who purchases Fantastic Tales gains not only an intelligently annotated anthology of superb fiction, but, in one pleasant sense, a collection of mostly new stories.
Interestingly, some of the finest stories are by authors least known in America. Théophile Gautier's beautifully written, wrenchingly ironic "The Beautiful Vampire" establishes the traditions for romantic vampire fiction. Mérimée's "The Venus of Ille," a tale of culture clashes (Parisian and rural, ancient classical, and contemporary Christian), is sharp, well-written, and uncommonly horrific. With the gorgeous "A Lasting Love," the sole woman contributor, Vernon Lee, paints the most vivid portrait of obsessive, transcendent, destructive love.
Caveat: Calvino's introductions sometimes reveal more of the plot than readers will like. --Cynthia Ward
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:10 -0400)
Compiled by Italo Calvino, one of the essential writers of the twentieth century, Fantastic Tales is a rich and wide-ranging collection of twenty-six classic, uncanny tales from the nineteenth century written by an intriguing panoply of European and American authors. Master storyteller himself, Calvino has contributed an informative introduction to the collection, and an engaging precis to each story.
An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.
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