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The Castle of Crossed Destinies

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  3,027 ratings  ·  209 reviews
A group of travellers chance to meet, first in a castle, then a tavern. Their powers of speech are magically taken from them and instead they have only tarot cards with which to tell their stories. What follows is an exquisite interlinking of narratives, and a fantastic, surreal and chaotic history of all human consciousness.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published October 2nd 1997 by Vintage Classics (first published 1969)
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‘I always feel the need to alternate one type of writing with another, completely different, to begin writing again as if I had never written anything before.’

And thus ends Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies. There are times when I forget just how much I love Calvino’s writing. This is a very short book, but one that requires intense concentration to read – in fact, it requires intense concentration right up until the point where you realise that you simply aren’t smart enough to ge
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 07, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core
To be my friend here in Goodreads, my question is: "What is your favorite literary genre?" In response to that, I received several answers ranging from classics, noir, thrillers (very few), mystery and suspense and romance (every now and then) but mostly YA and "none in particular" or as "I read anything" (that sometimes makes me ask myself what's the use of asking the question). Well, I now have 200+ friends and more than half of those I guess wanted me to be their friend instead of the other w ...more
Jeff Jackson
This one looked like pure candy - stories of knight, hermits, and queens told from Tarot cards! - but that proved to be a mirage. Instead it's an Oulipian experiment in how to generate multiple stories from two Tarot decks which differ only in their illustrations. The stories unfold one card at a time - the selected cards are also shown in the margins - as the narrator struggles to create coherence between each card and an overall narrative thread throughout the course of the reading.

There's a
Paul Bryant
People sit around in pubs and get drunk and bandy ridiculous ideas about - hey, what if you wrote a novel but you couldn't use one letter of the alphabet! Wow, great idea. Hey what about a bunch of characters who can only communicate by means of tarot cards? Whoah, that's cool. Hey - what about someone getting in the next round? Well, we've been part of those evenings, and the next day we've got a fat headache and forgotten all that nonsense. Except for Italo Calvino and Georges Perec. They don' ...more
I don’t know why I keep trying; it’s quite obvious that while there are aspects of Calvino’s writing that I love, even coming blurred through the translations, his structures, styles, plots, characters (or lack thereof) really get on my nerves. The idea is fine, but then telling a whole series of stories via someone guessing at what other people mean by laying out certain patterns of tarot cards… gets wearing.

It’s nice at first to keep your mind on the cards, the symbolism, the way the story hap
Alan Chen
I appreciate Calvino. He is a truly awe inspiring writer. In every one of his books he plays with form, function, or content in a different way. He explores the limits of literature in a way that shows his passion for language and the ways he can manipulate it. In The Castle of Crossed Destinies he has travelers meet up in a castle for the first part and a tavern in the second part. They use tarot decks to tell their stories because they are unable to speak. The storytellers are sharing the same ...more
This is kind of a splendid book. It is demanding; the reader must engage with it, examining each card as it is revealed and disputing its meaning with the narrator. It also helps to be well-versed in folklore and literature, both because recognizing many of the tales makes them more comprehensible and because Calvino's style is a strange, almost challenging mix of archaic and modern literary styles that sits uneasily on genre shelves.

It actually reminds me quite a bit of Catherynne M. Valente's
Sei un giovane scrittore in erba? Stai pensando di vendere un rene per frequentare quel master di scrittura creativa che tanto agogni?

Lascia perdere. Per soli 8,00 puoi avere "Il castello dei destini incrociati" di un tal Calvino che ti spiega come si fa a scrivere una storia dal nulla. Basta un mazzo di tarocchi. Li butti giù e ti immagini una storia. Ma non è detto che bisogna usare per forza i tarocchi. Anche combinare vari dipinti tra loro va benissimo. Insomma, qualsiasi elemento è utilizza
Uzeh ovu knjižicu u okviru Dewey's read-a-thon izazova (pročitaj što više u 24 sata) zato što je kratka, da mi drži pažnju, ali samo me izmrcvarila. Putnici putujući kroz začaranu šumu ostanu bez glasa i osuđeni su da svoje priče pričaju slikama, odnosno Tarot kartama. Navodno je ovo Kalvinov eksperiment o važnosti slika i simbola nad riječima. Tarot karte slažu priču sa beskonačno mnogo interpretacija, što riječi same ne mogu. Zanimljiv koncept ne znači nužno i zanimljivu knjigu, ali ovaj put j ...more
Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere)
I bumped into this book via wikipedia. I was (actually still am, as I write this) reading Orlando Furioso, and on the wikipedia page under Later Literature, read this:
The Italian novelist Italo Calvino drew on Ariosto for several of his works of fiction including Il cavaliere inesistente ("The Nonexistent Knight", 1959) and Il castello dei destini incrociati ("The Castle of Crossed Destinies", 1973). In 1970 Calvino brought out his own selection of extracts from the poem.
I can't tell you if Calv
Rob Adey
I was probably supposed to read this, or books like it, when I was
studying English, but I was scared off by the rays of post-structuralist
zeal shooting out of the eyes of my theory-crazed lecturers,
deconstructing everything in their path.

But there's nothing scary here - at least, semiotically speaking. The
central conceit is a twist on Doctor Terror's House of Horror - a
traveller escapes from a wild wood into a castle, eager to share his
story with the other travellers feasting there. But he and t
Le carte dei tarocchi combinate per raccontare delle storie. Esperimento narrativo, intreccio di letteratura, matematica ed esoterismo; eppure il vero colpo di genio è all'inizio di ciascuna delle due raccolte che compongono questo volume: nel Castello dei destini incrociati i personaggi sono costretti da un improvviso mutismo collettivo a utilizzare le carte per raccontare le proprie disavventure; nella Taverna dei destini incrociati la loro voce è dominata dal chiasso del locale, e ancora una ...more
Ecco, questo sarebbe un libro da tablet che riproducesse le immagini dei tarocchi che Calvino fa giostrare per raccontare le storie di questo bi-romanzo, del castello e della taverna dei destini incrociati.

Geniale nella costruzione geometrica delle storie, raffinatissimo e coltissimo nella scelta dei personaggi che pesca nell'Orlando Furioso, nella mitologia, nelle tragedie di Shakespeare.

Il passaggio che preferisco è: "Anch'io cerco di dire la mia" dove l'autore si lascia condurre dalla success
Simona Bartolotta
Ho preferito molto di più la prima parte rispetto alla seconda.
Le storie ben scritte hanno sempre un fascino nascosto ed esercitano un richiamo talmente intenso, incomprensibile eppure così ovviamente chiaro, che è impossibile non rispondere.
Calvino è geniale. Il commento potrebbe limitarsi a queste parole.
Un tesoro questo piccolo libro, che raccoglie due racconti (o forse potrei dire due romanzi con mille storie dentro), uno quello che dà il titolo al libro, “il castello dei destini incrociati”, l’altro si intitola “la taverna dei destini incrociati”.
Dico subito che mi è piaciuto tantissimo il primo, un po’ meno il secondo.
Ne “il castello dei destini incrociati”, partendo dai Tarocchi del mazzo visconteo, il più antico che si conos
I bought this book in a small Brooklyn bookshop during a rain storm. I was on vacation and felt like a little post-modern fiction. I'm writing this mostly for myself, so sorry if that doesn't add anything to the review. The book itself was exactly what I was looking for: a nerdy delight to make my brain hurt. The fashion in which Calvino weaves his narratives around the formation of tarot cards is masterful. The man is a storyteller by trade and a mathematician at heart. Or the other way around. ...more
So this is another that could easily be 5 star book, and is probably better than Marcovaldo on an objective literary quality scale. It is one of the most creative books I have ever read (not surprising as it comes from probably the most creative author I have ever read). But, it just didn't leave my heart all warm and fuzzy like Marcovaldo. It did however, leave me blown away by Calvino's ridiculous talent, and his absolute mastery of story telling. If I hadn't read this the day after finishing ...more
I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone who enjoys the strange and uncanny. Travelers, after traversing a forest, arrive at a castle – or tavern in the second half - unable to speak. Their only means of communication is through a deck of tarot cards – the configurations each traveler lays out their cards in being interpreted by the narrator to tell the stories of each traveler to the reader. That premise alone is the sort of thing I dreamed of someone doing before I knew about this book, m ...more
Deborah Biancotti
I loved the concept of this book: travellers, made mute by the trials of their journies tell their stories by using the images of a deck of Tarot cards -- only to discover that their stories are intermingled. Part of the same, overall story, perhaps: the story of humanity.

And I loved Calvino's explanation at the end, of how he wrote the book & how he found himself increasingly obsessed with re-telling the stories, re-interpreting the cards. That obsession -- the energy & madness of obses
Calvino, Italo. THE CASTLE OF CROSSED DESTINIES. (1976, 1977). ***. Calvino was born in Cuba in 1923, but was raised in Italy for most of his life. He died in Siena at the age of sixty-one. He is known as an experimental novelist or, even, a fabulist. He did not shrink back from experimentation in his works. This work is actually a combination of two efforts that had been previously published under different titles. Both of the works are based on the use of Tarot cards to form – or illustrate – ...more
Non mi ha convinto molto. Dei libri di Calvino che ho letto è secondo me il peggiore. Il Castello riuscito nel suo aspetto compositivo non è molto interessante in quello narrativo. La Taverna che è più interessante sotto certi punti di vista nel contenuto, riduce i Tarocchi a pura ispirazione visiva annullando quasi l'intento combinatorio. A questo fallimento Calvino si aggrappa per portare avanti l'allegoria che aveva iniziato col Castello: da una parte la vita e gli accadimenti, dall'altra il ...more
May 07, 2013 Bjorn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: italy
The weirdest - and, sadly, least enjoyable - Calvino book I've read so far, which is saying something.

The whole thing is built around tarot cards. A group of travellers in a deep forest settle down around a table, and since they're mute, they try to tell their stories by showing the others tarot cards in specific sequences - call it a deckamerone of cards. It's a semiotic novel like Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana to the 3rd degree; every story told, while on some level an obvious play
Once again, here is a book that I can coldly appreciate is brilliant, but I hold it at arm’s length and cannot like it. It was tiresome. I am tired of thinking about it. So was Calvino, apparently--he writes in the Note at the end: “I publish this book to be free of it: it has obsessed me for years.”

I can see how tantalizing this challenge was that he set himself: to tell stories--original stories, classic stories, and universal stories--through the medium of Tarot cards in such a way that the
It's been awhile since I've reread Calvino, whose fiction offers particular pleasures, especially a great sense of playfulness. It's a mature, intellectual playfulness, not precious or nostalgic, often combining science, mythology and fantasy. With Crossed Destinies, we get Calvino in full form: playing off the symbolic imagery of the cards, and the inherent narrative structure of the tarot game, he lays down age-old stories via imaginative interpretations of two decks of Tarot, one from Italy i ...more
This is a book I should have loved. A sort of Canterbury Tales meets tarot cards. There are two almost separate books in this one slim volume. In each, a group of travelers gather in a strange place. None of them knows how they arrived. Each is mute and their hair has gone white. The first group of stories takes place in a castle and the second in a tavern.

In order to explain who they are to each other, every guest uses a deck of tarot cards to explain their story. Lovely idea.

In theory. In prac
Calvino's notes at the end would have been better utilized to preface this collection of writings.. There he admits The Castle of Crossed Destinies is not so much a novel but obsessive writing exercises based on the tarot and that he published the book 'to be free of it'. He further states that he has rewritten parts of it and had plans to add a third section in a more contemporary setting.

I enjoyed the writing more with this knowledge as it read like stream of consciousness and was hard to fol
Thiago Estavaringo
Um livro inventivo que prova a genialidade do Calvino, uma boa harmonia entre estória, conteúdo e forma.
Calvino nunca se contentou em apenas contar uma estória, ele se preocupa em como contar e em "O castelo dos destinos cruzados" temos essa sensação que tudo está sendo forjado conforme estamos lendo, à cada carta de tarô que e virada sobre a mesa.
Dhanaraj Rajan
Italo Calvino is an Incomparable Genius.

I am seriously at a loss for ideas about how to write a review for this book. And whatever I write as review may not certainly do justice to the book.

I will, however, try my best to review and to do at least minimum justice possible to the book.


A Castle and a Tavern in the woods where the passing travelers intending to refresh themselves find themselves robed of their faculty of speech. Using the deck of tarot cards that is available the people
Nathanael Myers
An experiment in structure. The Castle of Crossed Destinies, which includes The Tavern of Crossed Destinies, is an exercise in interpretation. Many strangers meet at the castle or the tavern. Each one has been traumatized so that all have lost the power of speech. They attempt to tell their stories by playing tarot cards, laying them down in rows or columns. The other characters read the cards to construct a possible narrative. After the first character has played his cards, the next begins his ...more
Think Canterbury Tales except all of the travelers have been struck dumb and can only tell stories through a series of tarot cards, which the narrator interprets with wildly varying degrees of believability that what he's understanding is what was intended.

Structurally, it's complex since the stories are laid out on a table in an intersecting fashion. It's possible to follow along with a real tarot deck if you're so inclined. Calvino writes in the essay at the end that he wanted to construct a c
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book 2 25 Sep 25, 2013 04:39AM  
  • Harvesters
  • The Viceroys
  • To Each His Own
  • La boutique del mistero
  • La cognizione del dolore
  • Il bell'Antonio
  • The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
  • The Child Of Pleasure
  • Baol. Una tranquilla notte di regime
  • Lessico famigliare
  • One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand
  • Reeds in the Wind
  • The Time of Indifference
  • The Iguana
  • Conversations in Sicily
Italo Calvino was born in Cuba and grew up in Italy. He was a journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952-1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If On a Winter's Night a Traveler (1979).

His style is not easily classified; much of his writing has an air of the fantastic
More about Italo Calvino...
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler Invisible Cities The Baron in the Trees Cosmicomics Il cavaliere inesistente

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“every choice has its obverse, that is to say a renunciation, and so there is no difference between the act of choosing and the act of renouncing” 14 likes
“From this arid sphere every discourse and every poem sets forth; and every journey
through forests, battles, treasures, banquets, bedchambers, brings us back here, to the center
of an empty horizon.”
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