Readings — From the April 2013 issue

Visible Cities

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From Italo Calvino: Letters 1941–1985, out this month from Princeton University Press. Franco Maria Ricci, a publisher, commissioned Calvino to prepare a text for a volume containing reproductions of the fifteenth-century Visconti tarot decks; the text later became the novel The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1973). This letter is thought to have been written in Paris in the autumn of 1969. Translated from the Italian by Martin McLaughlin.

Dear Mr. Ricci,

Here is my CV. I was born in 1923 under a sky in which the radiant Sun and melancholy Saturn were housed in harmonious Libra. I spent the first twenty-five years of my life in what was in those days a still verdant San Remo, which contained cosmopolitan eccentrics amid the surly isolation of its rural, practical folk; I was marked for life by both these aspects of the place. Then I moved to industrious and rational Turin, where the risk of going mad is no less than elsewhere (as Nietzsche found out).

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