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    Why Read The Classics?


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    'Why Read the Classics?' is a collection of thirty-six essays by Italo Calvino on "his" classics: the writers, poets and scientists who had meant most to him at different stages of his life. After the title essay, which explores several original definitions of what makes a "classic", the pieces range in time from antiquity (Homer, Ovid) through early modern and Enlightenment Europe (Ariosto, Defoe, Diderot, Voltaire) to the masters of the nineteenth-century novel (Stendhal, Balzac, Flaubert, Dickens, Tolstoy, Conrad), before dealing with Calvin's early American mentors (Twain, James, Hemingway) and contemporaries such as Borges, Pasternak and Queneau. The essays also offer the most comprehensive sample yet available of Calvino the literary critic, in substantial articles which he wrote of a period of thirty years from the 1950s to his death in 1985.

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