Matthew's Reviews > The Nonexistent Knight & The Cloven Viscount

The Nonexistent Knight & The Cloven Viscount by Italo Calvino
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's review
Apr 28, 10

it was amazing
bookshelves: laugh-riots

Calvino is my master. There is no better writer of tales. I really have to give credit to this Archibald Colquhoun, who translated most of what I've read by the man.

'The Nonexistent Knight' is Calvino's funniest story. A perfectionist knight, an empty suit of armor, can only retain being from constant organization and thoughtfulness. Just thinking of this character's precision makes me smile. He sits at table with other knights, mincing his food into neat rows that he stacks and reorganizes, shifting wine from glass to glass, constantly ordering clean plates, all because he has no mouth or stomach with which to eat, and all the while correcting his knighted colleagues. Without a doubt, this story has the funniest seduction in the history of literature, involving a lusty noblewoman who lures knights to her castle via staged bear attack, who then proceeds to make love to a man who doesn't exist, a suit of armor that spends most of the time moving the bed for the right light.

'The Cloven Viscount' is a more gruesome story. A man's cruel side survives being separated from the rest of himself by cannonball. He hops around his homeland, administering violence, halving things with his sword so that they resemble himself.

This is all part of a trilogy that is sometimes called 'Our Ancestors' which includes the equally wonderful 'The Baron In The Trees'. Reading Calvino just makes me feel incredible, especially these novels.

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