Andrew's Reviews > Why Read the Classics?

Why Read the Classics? by Italo Calvino
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's review
Dec 29, 2015

bookshelves: essays, literary-studies, italian-fiction, italo-calvino
Read in March, 2011

Calvino is somewhat less charming as a literary critic than as a novelist. The introductory essay, "Why Read the Classics?," is an old favorite of mine, and I was glad to revisit it. But from there on out, I was mostly left cold. Granted, I hadn't read most of the books he was discussing-- Ovid, Xenophon, Pavese, Gadda, Montale, certain works by Flaubert-- so I was bound to be a bit less engaged than someone who had read the books in question. But even when I had read them (Stendhal, Homer) I wasn't terribly impressed. A notable exception: his essay on Hemingway is excellent, largely because it's one of the few writings on the man that manages to transcend both worship of and vicious hatred of Ernest H. Calvino is still probably my favorite writer ever-- if anyone is reading this, there's next to nothing of his stuff on my GoodReads profile because I devoured most of it in high school and college-- but this is easily the weakest of his works that I've encountered.
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