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Italian Folktales (1956)

by Italo Calvino

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,094266,162 (4.09)71
Chosen as one of the New York Times's ten best books in the year of its original publication, this collection immediately won a cherished place among lovers of the tale and vaulted Calvino into the ranks of the great folklorists.
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» See also 71 mentions

English (24)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
Have not read all of these, but I will continue to pick it up forever. I imagine Calvino contemplating and pumping out a few of these gems before attacking work like Invisible Cities and If on a Winter's Night... ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
Have not read all of these, but I will continue to pick it up forever. I imagine Calvino contemplating and pumping out a few of these gems before attacking work like Invisible Cities and If on a Winter's Night... ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
Calvino began the project in 1954, influenced by Vladimir Propp's Morphology of the Folktale; his intention was to emulate the Straparola in producing a popular collection of Italian fairy tales for the general reader. He did not compile tales from listeners, but made extensive use of the existing work of folklorists; he noted the source of each individual tale, but warned that was merely the version he used.

He included extensive notes on his alterations to make the tales more readable and the logic of his selections, such as renaming the heroine of The Little Girl Sold with the Pears Perina rather than Margheritina to connect to the pears, and selecting Bella Venezia as the Italian variant of Snow White because it featured robbers, rather than the variants containing dwarfs, which he suspected were imported from Germany. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Nov 27, 2021 |
In the middle of the last century, celebrated Italian novelist Italo Calvino set about to accomplish a remarkable task: he would scour the entire country to gather all of the folk stories usually conveyed in the oral tradition and transcribe them into a printed volume that would rival the great anthologies by other folklorists, such as Aesop or the Brothers Grimm. That effort soon became more challenging than imagined as many of the folktales he encountered had myriad regional variations that differed from one another in significant ways. Consequently, a big part of Calvino’s job was spent assimilating diverse renditions of the same tale into a unified version and then putting that amalgam down on paper, an effort that required frequent embellishments from his own imagination. The result of his work is Italian Folktales, a collection of 200 quintessential stories intended to capture the very essence of the Italian character and culture.

This book represents an impressive job of scholarship. In addition to gathering and adapting the stories themselves, Calvino provides an extensive appendix in which he gives a historical background and context for each tale. (Incidentally, the author originally produced all of this in Italian; the volume was translated into English by someone else a few decades later.) I found these explanations to be quite useful and occasionally illuminating as I made my way through the collection. On the other hand, I thought that the stories themselves were underwhelming and, far too often, not particularly interesting. In fact, there was a real sameness to the tales that made it seem like far fewer than 200 unique tales were being told. Also, none of these tales was especially memorable in the way that the classic fables from other sources are (e.g., ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’, ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘Rumpelstiltskin’). So, I have to offer Italian Folktales a mixed recommendation, with considerable kudos for the author’s research but low marks for the unengaging nature of the source material. ( )
  browner56 | May 15, 2021 |
These fairy tales were very enjoyable. Not too surprisingly, there was some repetition - different regions of Italy having various versions of basically the same story - but that didn't bother me. It was interesting to see a few tales that were clearly variations of Homer! ( )
  leslie.98 | Mar 31, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Calvino, Italoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
DuBois, GérardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fili, LouiseCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, GeorgeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Chosen as one of the New York Times's ten best books in the year of its original publication, this collection immediately won a cherished place among lovers of the tale and vaulted Calvino into the ranks of the great folklorists.

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Chosen as one of the New York Times’s ten best books in the year of its original publication, this collection immediately won a cherished place among lovers of the tale and vaulted Calvino into the ranks of the great folklorists. Introduction by the Author; illustrations. Translated by George Martin. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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