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Fantastic Tales: Visionary and Everyday

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4.26  ·  Rating details ·  344 ratings  ·  33 reviews
With this posthumously published anthology--a successor to his bestselling Italian Folktales--Italo Calvino, a contemporary surveyor of the otherwordly, pays homage to twenty-six of his nineteenth-century precursors. The resulting volume is both an education in the history of fantastic literature and a rollercoaster ride of wonder and terror, vampires, ghosts, and the rebe ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published October 27th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1983)
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Glenn Russell
Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Italy's master spinner of the wildly inventive, the incomparable Italo Calvino, includes twenty-six of his favorite imaginary tales in this excellent collection. And since each tale is worthy of its own review, I have chosen one of my personal favorites: The Holes in the Mask by French fin-de-siècle decadent writer Jean Lorrain (1855-1906). Below is a brief synopsis of Lorrain’s six-page gem along with my observations on how his tale relates to several themes of decadent literature:

During a nigh
...more
Lanny
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The Venus of Ille is one of my favorite stories in this, as it has the fastidiousness of a French tale, the oddness of a Hoffmann, and the Surreality of a Roussel. I think this is one of Calvino's best. Yes, I don't think one can escape the associations between Calvino and Roussel in some of these. Super fun to read!
David
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-non-sci-fi
Some brilliant tales in this well-selected anthology. My favourites were those by Dickens, Turgenev, Leskov, de Maupassant, James and Bierce. I had to skip past the Walter Scott and Rudyard Kipling stories, though; Scots English and extensive descriptions of a bridge across the Ganges were definite low lights!
Michael
Oct 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book led me to read more work by authors such as Gogol and Hoffmannn, which has been a wonderful experience. There are not many anthologies that I would give 5 stars, but this is definitely one.
Corinne
Feb 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
stories, bits of them; small yet strong visceral images haunt my... not because the stories where disturbing or frightening, mostly, but because they have become muddled in my head and I can't recall sufficient detail to isolate the stories from one-another.

Time to re-read, perhaps... or be re-read to.
Kylie
Sorry, but no. I'm not debating the mastery of language that most of the authors herein show, but overall I had little pleasure in this anthology. The stories that I did enjoy were mostly ones that I have in other collections; those that aren't I'd rather track down elsewhere than add this to my library.
Muiiiiimuiiiii
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was Calvino's name that drew me to this book and I'm so glad I read it. A fabulous anthology of fantastical tales.

My favorites: E.T.A. Hoffmann's The Sandman, Gogol's The Nose, The Elixir of Life by Honore de Balzac, Maupassant's Night: A Nightmare.
Andresa Constantino
Todos os contos, exceto o do Rudyard Kipling são magníficos. Particularmente, não me agradou a escrita do Kipling o que me fez desistir do texto mais ou menos na metade... mas, no geral, os contos foram bem escolhidos (principalmente o do Maupassant, A noite, meu conto favorito).
David Meditationseed
Excellent selection of stories from different authors of the nineteenth century of the literary genres of fantastic realism and horror.

Calvino introduces to each tale a brief description of the author and the stories - and be careful, because in some of them, his description even points to spoilers.

The precision of the choice, in my opinion, is more in the selection of the authors than in the stories themselves (there are better or as good stories by these authors as the ones chosen here), but p
...more
Leticia
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alguns dos contos foram taaaao sensacionais: HG Wells Em terra de cego, Robert Louis StevensonO demônio da garrafa,, Merimee A venus de Ille, NervalAmao encantada, Hoffmann O homem de areia, Andersen A sombra... fiquei surpresa.
Chasles O olho sem pálpebras, Gogol O nariz Dickens O sinaleiro tb foram muito bons.
Veridiana Ferreira
So, guess I have 14 new favorite short stories now. I highly recommend this selection of fantastic stories!
Maite
Nov 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alguns contos nem lembro mais, e outros não consigo parar de pensar. No geral é uma boa coletânia para aqueles que curtem o estilo.
Aileen Bernadette Urquhart
Some great stories, most not read before.
Matthew
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is everything I could hope for a literary anthology to be.

Stories that intoxicate and transport.

Then in comes Henry James, serving you a warm saucer of milk. His story is slightly less interesting than a ghost hunters reality program played in slow motion.

Charles Dickens' 'Signalman' on the other hand, is a ghost story filled with such poignant longing, terrifying isolation, and beautiful description of its bleak setting (near the cold mouth of a bleak railroad tunnel).

These are not all gh
...more
Christy
Dec 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2011
A nice collection. The only thing that didn't work for me was the scholarly attempt to draw a thematic line between earlier, supposedly more "magical" (visionary) stories and later more "psychological" (every day) ones. (They were basically indistinguishable, whether or not the authors had had the opportunity to read Freud!) Calvino himself said it was arbitrary and that's always a giveaway that a scholar is reaching and feels obligated to indulge his or her own classifying impulse. What was gre ...more
Carmen Lau
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it
This was overall an enjoyable read if you like supernatural tales. I would have appreciated a little more thorough commentary on each story, but there is only so much space available in a collection whose purpose is to include the work of many different writers. In the end, I think the anthology is best appreciated as an introduction to the various included writers, the individual work of whom you can track down afterward. It's like a Whitman's sampler. My personal favorite was Henry James' "The ...more
Edgar Coelho Inouye
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, suspense, tales
This is a fantastic book, this collection is very impressive. You won't get bored with this book because the tales are short and the main theme is very distinct from each other. I learned a lot of things with this book, such as regional folklore of many parts of the world. Furthermore, you can find which author you identify better. For instance, I liked Alan Poe before this book, but now I know that I would like to read more about him. The Tell-Tale Heart by Poe is brilliant.
Tim Stiller
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Fantastic Tales" was a good reading experience for me. This collection of stories definitely had a few standouts, particularly "The Nose" by Gogol, "The Elixir of Life" by Balzac, "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Poe, "The Shadow" by Anderson, and "The Country of the Blind" by H.G. Wells. Many others were engaging as well, the introduction was the only part I didn't really care for but the stories themselves were great. Recommended.
Isaac Ehrlich
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When a teacher told me about this anthology, I pondered if I would enjoy reading it. Fantastic Tales did not disappoint me. These stories each had an interesting premise and use of language and metaphors to give the reader the uncertainty about reality. The collection even included work from authors I had no knowledge of prior to obtaining it. I enjoyed some stories more than others, but they are all at least somewhat intriguing.
Josephine Ensign
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is not a genre that I typically read, but I found this collection intriguing. Calvino left out Mary Shelley's masterpiece, Frankenstein, claiming that it was too long. My two favorite pieces in the collection are "The Bridge-Builders" by Rudyard Kipling and "The Country of the Blind" by H.G. Wells.
Leila Farjami
Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Another great book by Calvino. A wonderful compilation of fantastic tales by authors such as Poe, Balzac, Turgeniev, etc....highly recommended specially to readers who enjoy Gothic and phantasmic tales.
s.e. smith
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some real gems in this book that I might never have read had Calvino not recommended them. This is a great resource for myself and my fellow readers who are tired of realism and long for something a bit more fantastic.
Samantha
Acho que o livro deve ser super legal, como um todo, mas nesse momento ele não tá rolando pra mim. Tentei ler um conto por dia, mas não consigo me concentrar e acabo deixando o livro de lado. :( Botei ele na estante de "abandonados", mas pretendo tentar terminá-lo um dia.
Pir
Sep 12, 2008 is currently reading it
if calvino compiled it, then it's probably great. reading the Sandman now, by e.t.a. Hoffmann.
Andrew
Oct 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shortstories, fiction
This is a great collection. I wouldn't expect otherwise from an author (Calvino) whose own work shows an acute appreciation of literature.
Lua Limaverde
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Meu review aqui.
Esme
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
DNF. I read a few stories from here now and then, especially around Halloween.
Max Ostrovsky
Like Edgar Allen Poe? Read this! Wonderful short stories - eerie and engaging and enchanting.
Isabelrt
Sep 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: classic
Not liking it so much for now. The handful of stories Ive read are a bit childish, and yet have an edge of horror that makes me shy away (Im no fan). Well see, anyway. ...more
Ron
Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Fun to read, ghost stories and the like from back when the genre was invented.
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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 easily to classify; much of his writing has an air reminiscent to
...more