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Italo Calvino and Anglophone Culture


Wednesday 6 December, from 2.30pm

Italo Calvino and Anglophone Culture

on the occasion of the centenary of Italo Calvino’s birth

An event organised by Pierpaolo Antonello (Cambridge), Guido Bonsaver (Oxford), Martin McLaughlin (Oxford)

Italo Calvino (1923-1985) had a very special relationship with Anglophone culture in all its manifestations, but particularly with literature in English. As a young man he wrote his university thesis on the works of Joseph Conrad; in the first half of his literary career his main stylistic models were Hemingway and R. L. Stevenson; in the 1970s and 80s he came to appreciate the complexity of Joyce’s works; and in the last years of his life he became an enthusiastic supporter of writers of English who were also his friends, such as Salman Rushdie and Gore Vidal. Calvino probably had a broader knowledge of ‘English’ literature than any other Italian writers of the twentieth century. He was also interested in music and amongst his friends was Adam Pollock, the English musical director who for thirty years was the Director of the Opera Festival at Batignano, an initiative enthusiastically supported by Calvino himself.

The event dedicated to ‘Calvino and Anglophone Culture’ reflects his profound knowledge of our culture. The speakers who will talk about the author and his cultural legacy in Britain, are professors of Italian literature who are based in or have studied in the UK or Ireland (Elio Baldi, Eleonora Lima, Olivia Santovetti, Beatrice Sica); translation specialists and translators of Calvino (Federico Federici, Martin McLaughlin); and other writers and critics who are experts on various aspects of Calvino’s works: Ian Thomson, biographer of Calvino’s friend Primo Levi, Marina Warner, novelist and expert on folk-tales, including Calvino’s Italian Folk-Tales, Adam Pollock, Director of the Opera Festival at Batignano. In addition, Olivia Santovetti will interview the critic Domenico Scarpa, who has published the monumental centenary volume Calvino fa la conchiglia (Calvino Makes his Shell, Milan, Hoepli, 2023)

1. Calvino Scholars Educated in Britain and Ireland
14.30-16.00: Elio Baldi (University of Amsterdam), Eleonora Lima (Trinity College, Dublin), Beatrice Sica (University College London)

2. Critics on Calvino
16.30-17.15: Olivia Santovetti interviews Domenico Scarpa

3. Calvino and Translations
17.15-18.15: Federico Federici, Martin McLaughlin

4. Round Table: Friends and Experts on Calvino
18.15-19.30: Adam Pollock, Ian Thomson, Marina Warner (Chair: Martin McLaughlin)

Book your place HERE

Martin McLaughlin was Agnelli-Serena Professor of Italian at Oxford from 2001 to 2017, and is now an Emeritus Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. He has published widely on Italian literature from the Middle Ages to the present. On Calvino he has written a monograph, Italo Calvino (Edinburgh UP, 1998) and has co-edited a book (Image, Eye and Art in Calvino: Writing Visibility, Oxford: Legenda, 2007). He has also translated a number of the author’s works: Why Read the Classics? (Cape, 1999) (winner of the John Florio Prize for translation), Hermit in Paris. Autobiographical Writings (Cape, 2003), Into the War (Penguin, 2011), Collection of Sand (Penguin, 2013), Letters 1941-1985 (Princeton University Press, 2013).

  • Organizzato da: ICI London
  • In collaborazione con: Pierpaolo Antonelllo (University of Cambridge), Guido Bonsaver (Oxford University) and Beatrice Sica (University College London)