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Marcovaldo

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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  9,684 ratings  ·  597 reviews
Marcovaldo is an enchanting collection of twenty stories that are both melancholy and funny, farce and fantasy. Calvino charts the struggles of an Italian peasant to reconcile country habits with urban life, combining comical disasters with a surrealistic view of city life through the eyes of an outsider. As always with Calvino, nothing is quite as it seems.
Paperback, 121 pages
Published March 22nd 2001 by Vintage Classics (first published 1963)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  9,684 ratings  ·  597 reviews


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Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Oct 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012

Calvino has been on my radar for a long time, and I think I made a good choice in picking Marcovaldo for a first try. This is a small book, but it has a big heart. The stories are set in the poverty ridden early 1950's and follow up to the relative abundance of the 1960's. The immediate connections that spring to mind are the grand masters of Italian neo-realism: de Sica in "The Bycicle Thieves", Fellini in "Amarcord" and "Roma - Citta Apperta", Visconti in "Rocco and his Brothers" or "White Nig
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Steven Godin
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Calvino's ecological allegories in the form of magical urban tales, takes a snippet of a story belonging to a season, and binds them into shape together to form the cycle of the seasons. Since all twenty of these very short stories feature the same character - Marcovaldo, you might just as well be reading a novella. Marcovaldo lives through the stories as the double of the writer, observing, reflecting and comparing in a perfectly detached way. He is a humble and romantic blue-collar worker lost ...more
David
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Italo Calvino is always fun to read. While Marcovaldo does not have the Borgesian or post-modern tropes of Invisible Cities or If on a winter's night a traveller, it is a heart-warming collection of brilliantly crafted stories, the pinnacle achievement being the lovable naivete and inventive imagination of the titular Italian, Marcovaldo. The whimsy and lyricism of Calvino's prose is worthwhile enough to embark on the too-short modern voyage of this short book, though it has much else to offer a ...more
Vonia
I actually really liked this one, more than I expected. This is my second from Italo Calvino, and although this is a far difference from ".... If on a Winter's Night a Traveler", it was almost as great, in different ways. Nice to find an author than can write well in multiple genres/styles.

"Morcovaldo" ["The Seasons in the City"] is a collection of vignettes, connected but separated by seasons and time.

"Marcovaldo is an unskilled worker in a drab industrial city in northern Italy. He is an irr
...more
Asma
A series of eccentric and unfortunate events...
Matthew
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was trying to write about cold weather. Since I was struggling, I set down my pen and opened this book and was amazed to read this:

"Cold has a thousand shapes and a thousand ways of moving in the world: on the sea it gallops like a troop of horses, on the countryside it falls like a swarm of locusts, in the cities like a knife-blade it slashes the streets and penetrates the chinks of unheated houses."

There! Simultaneously familiar and new. That is how it is done, Calvino. No wonder I read you
...more
John
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-story
Here's a book I knew I would like the minute I held it in my hot little hands. For one thing, it's short - 120 pages, fairly large print. For another, it's symmetrical - 20 stories, 5 for each season of the year. And finally, having read one story from it in a seasonal collection already, I knew it was both magical and sarcastic, a combination as golden as snide and abstract are shit. (Ok, it could be argued magical and sarcastic and snide and abstract are po-tay-to and po-tah-to, but let's not ...more
Edward
Oct 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh dear, this one was not good. The book is a series of "amusing" sketches featuring the hapless Marcovaldo, each drawing for its comedy from a piece of obvious and terribly cartoonish irony. In one story, a hungry Marcovaldo obtains some free mushrooms ... but they turn out to be poisoned! In another, he starts treating people for rheumatism through the use of wasp stings... but his practice is overrun by wasps! In yet another, Marcovaldo steals a rabbit which he looks forward to eating... but ...more
Annette
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who know what's good
dear italo calvino,
i would like to be able to live in this time and place that you are writing from. i would like to be able to know what it was like to be living in a place that was still struggling to reconcile the modern with the rural. i would like to understand what it was like to live poorly in a place and time like that. maybe it would not be that different to live that way today.

but moving to the heart of the matter, i want to know if marcovaldo is a sympathetic or comical character. i
...more
Kirstin
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written moments from the life of the comically-tragic character, Marcovaldo. A pretty, perfect book. Read it when you're sad. It will make you feel better. ...more
jeremy
Nov 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translation, fiction
while not as well known as if on a winter's night a traveler, invisible cities, or cosmicomics, marcovaldo equally exemplifies the peerless brilliance of italo calvino's creativity. the tale of marcovaldo, a hapless laborer living with his family in an italian city, unfolds over the course of twenty short stories and is set cyclically within the inexorable rhythm of the passing seasons. marcovaldo's insatiable imagination and affinity for the simple intrigue of everyday existence proves to be mo ...more
Uhtred
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marcovaldo is a book that I read for the first time when I was 8 years old and then, at intervals of about 10 years, I have always gladly reread. I would say that it is therefore a book that has marked my career as a reader. At the age of 8, I saw things there, which although not the ones that hit me when I matured, remained impressed and I still feel them today. Calvino is a writer of the rare ones, of those who write profound and timeless stories, but with the style of fairy tales, so that his ...more
Marc
What a wonderful simple booklet, without any pretentions but captivating. Twenty stories around the somewhat naive, romantic-dreamy Marcovaldo. He lives in an unspecified North Italian city and, above all, has an keen eye for nature. It looks like a children's book, with a strong tragi-comic accent, but there is also a solid social story in it, especially through the condition of poverty Marcovoldo and his family live in. Of course, the ecological theme makes it really modern. ...more
Joanna Marie
A nice book to start the Italo Calvino experience! Marcovaldo's set of stories is fun and delightful on every season. My faves are: Mushrooms In The City (spring), Park-bench Vacation (summer), The Lunchbox (autumn) Where The River Is More Blue (spring), The Wrong Stop (winter), and The Rain And The Leaves (spring). ...more
James Tingle
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This was the first Calvino novel I read a few years ago and I remember enjoying it and finding it a nice light book. It has an air of magical realism about it and is almost like an urban fantasy, as the protagonist floats about his village, caught in a pleasant sort of reverie most of the time. Perfect for a quick, uplifting read as it's very short and a good introduction to this author.
...more
sologdin
Hapless proletarian eschews collective bargaining and other concerted action in the class struggle, and instead attempts futile self-help remedies that typically result in his pulling up his own bootstraps as a garrote.
Paul
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Like Borges, Calvino's metier was the short form - short stories and novellas. Even his "novels" - 'If on a Winter's Night a Traveller', 'The Castle of Crossed Destinies' 'Invisible Cities' - are short story collections underneath the skin. This is no exception. It falls into that category of collected tales relating incidents from the daily lives of their central character - 'Mr Palomar', 'Cosmicomics', arguably - that are at once mundane and fantastic.

Marcovaldo is from peasant stock, transpla
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Based on newspaper columns that Calvino would publish in Milan, these hilarious stories of the Marcovaldo character are charming and heart-warming!
Kirsten
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Calvino so much I want to crawl inside his eyes and live there. I read his books sparingly, because once I've read them all for the first time I'll never get to do it again. This is my yearly ration. Marcovaldo is a lovely foreshadow of invisible cities, stories of how an ordinary person can look at the city and see its thousand ways.
Side thought, I wonder if this wouldn't be a better introduction for people who didn't connect to Invisible Cities.
Side thought two, the snow and the cats a
...more
Hannah
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For anyone who wants to read Italo Calvino but isn’t sure where to start, you can’t go wrong with Marcovaldo. This is a collection of 20 short tales about Marcovaldo and his family as they live their lives in a large industrial city (most likely Turin, where Calvino lived and worked for many years). Each story is set in a different season, hence the subtitle, “Le stagioni in città” or “The seasons in the city”. Sometimes comic and sometimes poetic, I found myself smiling throughout the book. It ...more
Bárbara Costa
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I genuinely don't understand why Calvino is not being lauded as one of the greatest writers of all time. I guess I'll just buy every single one of his books, and choose a favorite one for each day of the week. This one was the perfect mix of funny and heartwarming. ...more
Tom
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I admit up front that the fifth star is based on inflated nostalgia for my 2 1/2 year tour of duty with Uncle Sam in Vicenza, Italy, in the mid 70s. Nonetheless, there is plenty to recommend this delightful and poignant collection of stories. It is a paean to the persistence of imagination in the face of bleak conditions. No one blends whimsy and defeat and grimness like Calvino. The following opening passage, from chp 8, "The forest on the superhighway," captures Calvino's tone and theme:

"Cold
...more
Meghan Fidler
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: venerated-brains
Italo Calvino's "Marcovaldo or The Seasons in the City" is brilliant. While lighter in mood than Honoré de Balzac's "La Comédie humaine" the narrative follows a similar path: the pitfalls and twists in human interactions. Both highlight class boundaries, the pursuit of wealth, and family relationships.

Calvino reinvents these plot essentials with a humorous satirical edge which, to me, perfectly captures a moment in place and history. From the Section 'Autumn, the garden of stubborn cats':


But i
...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Another wonderful literary experience with Italo Calvino. Calvino seems to be a person who is incapable of disappointing me. On the other hand he seems to be making his hold on me firmer and I am more than willing to comply.

About the book: It is a collection of 20 short stories and the main character in all the short stories is a peasant-turned-city labourer named Marcovaldo. The stories are biting satires on the insensitive and greedy urbanization process and the incurable sickness of consumer
...more
Kurt Kemmerer
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fine single sitting meal, though I took it in over a few days. The pre-dinner drink made Marcovaldo taste much like an Italian version of an adult relative of Saroyan's Aram. I've decided to serve the first appetizer to all of my patients with insomnia. I'll call it exposure therapy. It won't work, but I'm also thinking of fighting with windmills after reading this delicious, joyful bit of slapstick, humor and curiosity (though often misplaced) mixed with steadfast humanity.

Still, poo
...more
Marieke
Aug 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marieke by: Green Group
This was a surprisingly enjoyable. i wasn't sure what to expect since i had never read anything by Italo Calvino before. And the premise seemed a bit odd. In fact, it *was* a bit odd, but that is precisely why i liked it. some of the situations Marcovaldo (or his children) got himself (themselves) into remained just this side of absurd and sometimes struck me as thoroughly improbable, but perfect for the chapter nonetheless. the concept of the book was quite clever and not once did i miss the pr ...more
Jeremy
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a lot of ways this seems to borrow heavily from the naturalism of so much of 19th century lit. You've got a character stuck in a dreary urbanized world, but instead of just wallowing in the ash and grime of industrialization, waiting for him to be defeated and destroyed by his urbanized, regimented existence, Calvino waves this cyclical narrative that shows how one person still manages to find these little moments of everyday beauty, tenderness, and humor in what is otherwise a grinding, mono ...more
Karlo Mikhail
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bursting with comic moments and sardonic insights, the book portrays slices of the everyday life of the worker Marcovaldo in an unnamed Italian city. The book depicts how Marcovaldo copes with the daily drudgery of capitalist existence through little adventures in search little spaces of nature amidst the concrete jungle of commerce and industry. This reminds me of Chaplin's Modern Life, but unveiled in one small episode for each Season (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter) through a period of five y ...more
Nate D
The perils of navigating the modern urban eco-system with an eye to sky for migration patterns, an ear to the ground for the stirring of new shoots beneath the tarmac. In usual Calvino style, the best of these manage to be delightful and sad and insightful at the same time. But, as earlier work, they're on the simpler side of his constructions. ...more
Owen Curtsinger
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again, Italo, you have shown me what it means to be a human being simply by telling a story. That is perhaps the highest feat of literature, and you attain it with the ease, grace, and wit of both a great genius and a good friend. Thank you.
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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 easy to classify; much of his writing has an air reminiscent to th
...more

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“Marcovaldo learned to pile the snow into a compact little wall. If he went on making little walls like that, he could build some street for himself alone; only he would know where these streets led, and everybody else would be lost there. He would remake the city, pile up mountains high as houses, which no one would be able to tell from real houses. But perhaps by now all the houses had turned to snow, inside and out, a whole city of snow and with monuments and spires and trees, a city could be unmade by shovel and remade in a different way.” 9 likes
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