Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mr Palomar” as Want to Read:
Mr Palomar
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mr Palomar

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  6,083 ratings  ·  442 reviews
Mr Palomar is a delightful eccentric whose chief activity is looking at things. He is simply seeking knowledge; 'it is only after you have come to know the surface of things that you can venture to seek what is underneath'. Whether contemplating a fine cheese, a hungry gecko, a woman sunbathing topless or a flight of migrant starlings, Mr Palomar's observations render the ...more
Paperback, 118 pages
Published July 11th 1994 by Vintage Classics (first published November 1983)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mr Palomar, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mr Palomar

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,083 ratings  ·  442 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Mr Palomar

The thought of a time outside our experience is intolerable.

Had I met someone like Mr. Palomar before reading this book, I’d have easily passed him off as just another middle aged man on the verge of senility with nothing better to do with his time or at the most a mad wannabe scientist who realized about his true calling when it was too late with no one interested about his observations or findings. But trust Mr. Calvino when it comes to make seemingly weak characters strong and one of the
Ahmad Sharabiani
Palomar = Mr. Palomar, Italo Calvino
Mr. Palomar is a 1983 novel by the Italian writer Italo Calvino. Its original Italian title is Palomar. In an interview with Gregory Lucente, Calvino stated that he began writing Mr. Palomar in 1975, making it a predecessor to earlier published works such as If on a winter's night a traveler. Mr. Palomar was published in an English translation by William Weaver in 1985.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: شانزدهم ماه نوامبر سال 2012 میلادی
عنوان: آقای پالومار؛ ایتالو کالوینو؛ م
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
A bit nearsighted, absent minded, introverted, he does not seem to belong temperamentally to that human type generally called an observer. And yet it has always happened that certain things – a stone wall, a seashell, a leaf, a teapot – present themselves to him as if asking him for a minute and prolonged attention: he starts observing them almost unawares and his gaze begins to run over all the details, and is then unable to detach itself.

I find it almost impossible to pick a favorite among t
Nate D
Mar 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: observers of internal and external landscapes
Recommended to Nate D by: The unabating stimuli of the surrounding world
Calvino's bittersweet final "novel": a series of reflections on humanity's relationship to the universe, to the world, to itself. Mr. Palomar, named of a telescope is a perfect observer, always alert and alert to his own alertness, seeking a maximum of receptivity to his surroundings, attempting with a modest diligence to make sense of existence. The question of how best to do this is, of course, complicated -- its nuances, broken in so many sub-examples, compose this book. Encyclopedic and rigo ...more
This is a sprightly and accessible tour of the mind of an ordinary man on a quest to see the world in simpler, truer terms and thereby reduce his anxiety with its confusion and paradoxes. In a series of 27 vignettes, he takes his common experience from the natural and human world as a series of problems in looking and interpreting the nature of reality. These little episodes or essays sometimes have the flavor of whimsy, sometimes of spiritual mediation, and other times of what you could be cons ...more
Mr. Palomar, as the name suggests, is an observant soul. When he goes on vacation, to the beach, he contemplates a wave, thoroughly. He notices a woman sunbathing topless, and strolls back and forth in front of her, trying out different postures to appear not to be observing her. She is ultimately not amused. He then waits till the sun starts to sink, and observes himself dive in, and knife toward the horizon.

He observes his lawn, an albino gorilla, a gecko. He, Calvino, is at his best when Mr.
Ben Winch
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came to Calvino late. As a curious/voracious young adult I read If on a winter’s night a traveller, thought it pointless, and aside from fragments didn’t try him again for twenty years. The density, the language, the playful intellectualness – none of that was the problem. But I was a Borges fan and I demanded some heartshock with my mindgames – some dizzying vertigo or glimpse of the abyss. Whether, in other works, Calvino offers this I can’t say: since my two-decades hiatus I’ve read only Mr ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this for university and I must say I quite enjoyed it. The book is composed by a variety of observations and reflections made by the protagonist Palomar. Some of them definitely offered me some insightful and interesting topics to think about.
Even though I prefer other works by Calvino, I still recommend this book.
L.S. Popovich
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Mr. Palomar, Calvino mentions elsewhere, is another one of his literary exercises. It is not as fascinating or developed as Cosmicomics or Winter's Night, but a worthwhile read. Mr. Palomar observes various phenomena, draws cosmic and personal connections, and then moves on. He is more a mouthpiece or a device for the author than a character. The observations are astute and frequently fascinating, though disconnected, arbitrary and exotic. Whether he is examining the sunset or an albino gorilla, ...more
James Tingle
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it

I finally finished reading Calvino's Our Ancestors the other month and enjoyed that quite a bit- all three pieces contained in that volume had their own merits, particularly The Baron in the Trees. That was very much a book about classic storytelling with a modern day fairy tale vibe going on, whereas Mr Palomar is totally different. This little sliver of a book is not really a novel or even a novella at all and is rather a solitary man's varied musings, collected together and linked up almost i
120119: this is the first calvino i read. thus the first avant-garde, first experimental, first oulipo, first anything other than usual sort of modern novel. i think i was like 14. i remember it on the first floor of the central city library, in some section i have never been, and maybe i get because it is on a low shelf as i sat on the floor in winter sunlight...

i am dissatisfied with what seemed to be usual SF and just drifting into the more ‘literary’ end, away from big guns, apocalypse, phy
MJ Nicholls
I'm not one of your starry-eyed prose-droolers who appreciates beautiful writing on its own terms. I need formal innovation or structural complexity or dazzling dialogue or knee-snapping humour to keep me amused amid the lexical contortionism. This makes Calvino an infuriating bedfellow: his Oulipo-era prose is constructed with tight mathematical rigidity, yet what comes through in this work is the shiny artifice of his prose, the sparkly poetics of the Cosmicomics. Not good.

Well . . . I don't
Alex Teplitzky
Aug 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every time I pick up an Italo Calvino book I am torn between two poles: on one hand, I am initially intensely disinterested: how to get involved in a book that has no overarching plot? But on the other hand, Calvino chooses his words so carefully and wisely that not one sentence seems superfluous. His love of lists for example seems to parallel the mind thinks. And, provided I give him a chance, my mind begins to think that Calvino is some kind of god who has the blue-prints to the human conditi ...more
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'd started reading this book a long time ago but didn't get very far for reasons long since forgotten. Having just re-read the brilliant 'If on a Winter's Night a Traveller', I picked it up again. Being by Calvino, one of my literary heroes, I knew it would never be less than interesting.

The book has no story as such at all, comprising a series of reflections. That rules it out for all of those readers who like their fiction to be plot-driven. And in the hands of another writer, this might be
Neal Adolph
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I wonder if, sometime before I was born and sometime before he died, Mr. Calvino and I had a meeting where we decided we would become friends, or perhaps we simply agreed that I would admire him a great deal and would go to him in those moments of need when I wasn't even aware of my need. I wonder if Mr. Palomar was the result of this meeting, the product of the contract, if you will. It is, of course, a silly thing to wonder. Entirely unlikely and, some would say, entirely impossible. How would ...more
Emily  O
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: European Literary Classics (ENG 202)
I don't usually like blurbs. I find that they often misrepresent the books that they are supposed to be describing. That said, I don't know that there is any better way to describe Mr. Palomar than "a vision of a world familiar by consensus, fragmented by the burden of individual perception. This books isn't plot driven, or even character driven, so much as it is a book of images, thoughts, moods, and ideas. Contemplative and deliberately paced, Mr. Palomar is different from almost anything else ...more
Michael Mejia
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I've always loved the idea of Calvino, his books of ideas, the idea of the book in Calvino, though I've not always loved everything of his. This is a great one. I mean, there is a plot in the sense that one's life is a plot, that the evolution of Mr. Palomar's thinking is a plot. Not that plot matters much to me. Palomar is less a character than a sequence of systems of thought, subtle differentiations between them, always leaning toward the balancing of the visible and invisible, the finite and ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A strange little book. It consists of a number of short musings on everyday life knitted together around the character of Mr Palomar. Most of the chapters left me cold, though I did like the story about odd sized slippers and the unwitting fellowship conferred on strangers by being part of a "odd matched pair".

Mr Calvino writes exquisitely as ever, but I struggled to get into this one. In part this was because I could not get away from my own musings and reflections. Early chapters are set at th
First the stats. My 15th book of October. My 85th book of the year. My 4th Calvino book.

What is a novel? That's the sort of question I've debated a few times. There's not nearly the time, audience or reason to discuss that question now. I ask it, though, because Mr Palomar is made up of tiny chapters, only a couple of pages each on average, which focus on something. That's it. There's no plot so to speak of. It's basically just looking at things.

It starts with Part 1: Palomar's Vacation. It op
Farhan Khalid
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel, italy
Nobody looks at the moon in the afternoon

And this is the moment when it would most require our attention

Since its existence is still in doubt

The moon is the most changeable body in the visible universe

And the most regular in its complicated habits

Who fear it is too beautiful to be true

Perhaps the first rule I must impose on myself is this: Stick to what I see

[Jupiter] Effects of immense atmospheric storms are translated into a calm, orderly pattern

What can be more stable than nothingness

This obs
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Calvino is my favourite writer and this was one of his last books. It's not an easy read. There is no 'story' as such. Rather it is a series of meditations that are as lyrical as they are rigorous and profound. Like the famous and brilliant Invisible Cities it is a book that requires more than one reading. Calvino is the master of paradox and contradiction and his ideas are genuinely original. ...more
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my favurite by Calvino so far: clever, shrewd, funny, smart.
If you want to see the world under new lights, this is the book you're looking for.
Inderjit Sanghera
Dec 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
True art opens our eyes to the beauty of the world-to its inexorable effervescence and inescapable sadness. Mr Palomar, who appears to the world to be an eccentric crank, discombobulating beneath the dissonances of his mind, is a true artist and poet: that he is able to recognize the beauty of a piece of cheese, which the colorless, grey crowds ignore in their desire to go nowhere fast, is a symptomatic of how willfully understood most artists are-it is only after we open the minds and eyes of o ...more
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Jenelle, Derick Dupree
Book simmering with that Aristotelian flavor: endearing list-making, whimsical archiving. It can be a bit tedious and indulgent at times, like Calvino is spewing out of his vault just to spew, but I have a habit/fault of being an invested and flattering listener, anyway, so I don't mind. In any case, P.'s system of order stresses me out -- it's so intentionally myopic it is smothering. There's no motion to this book at all, but the language is so so beautiful; it was a real pleasure to luxuriate ...more
Though he believes that "the world can very well do without him," the res cogitans that inhabits this text (not much of a narrative and accordingly not properly a narrator) investigates the world available to him ("the surface of things is inexhaustible" or so), loathing to waste those surfaces that the world sets before him and attempting to reduce complexity to simplicity, as he asserts.

Plenty of amusing observations and philosophical interest. Perhaps however not entirely successful.
M. Sarki
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to M. by: Garima
I wanted to give this book one star as I "did not like it", but out of respect for many admiring readers of it here, give it two stars instead. I am now finished with my subjection of Italo Calvino. He just does not do it for me. Sorry. ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, italy, men
i concur wholeheartedly with the fantastic seamus heaney when he calls these writings 'beautifully nimble, solitary feats of imagination.' ...more
Indran Fernando
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In this book, Calvino eschews the magic realist and speculative genres for which he is better known, instead presenting the observations and thoughts of the titular character, an introspective, middle-aged man who "likes to looks at things."

You could call this book a very charming and engaging celebration of things like consciousness, perception, existence, nature, anthropology, and astronomy. Like Swann's Way, it can recalibrate the reader's mind, imparting an almost sacred appreciation for th
Brent Legault
Dec 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
If this were a novel (it isn't), it would have the rare distinction of being entirely characterless. (Which is not to say it is without character. Character it has. In fact, it's a real charmer.)

Many books lack plot (as this one does) but few find themselves without a character to follow around. Calvino, however, despite having named his book after a person (the "main character"), has made a world that is populated by things like giraffes and tortoises and waves and meat and cheese and even sta
Yehia Nasser
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
If time has to end, it can be described, instant by instant,” Palomar thinks, “and each instant, when described, expands so that its end can no longer be seen.” He decides that he will set himself to describing every instant of his life, and until he has described them all he will no longer think of being dead. At that moment he dies
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
cal in0 2 30 Dec 30, 2012 01:32AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Moon and the Bonfire
  • Lettere a un giovane poeta/Lettere a una giovane signora/Su Dio
  • Scritti corsari
  • The Lesson of the Master
  • Ett annat liv
  • La casa in collina
  • La Playa
  • Aria di montagna
  • The Late Mattia Pascal
  • La nuova stagione
  • To Each His Own
  • Dul
  • Stabat mater
  • Dialoghi con Leucò
  • La cognizione del dolore
  • The System: Who Owns the Internet, and How It Owns Us
  • Os Cus de Judas
  • The Conspiracy of Art: Manifestos, Interviews, Essays
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

Thirty-four years after the publication of her dystopian classic, The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood returns to continue the story of Offred. We talked...
367 likes · 59 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“A person's life consists of a collection of events,
the last of which could also change the meaning of the whole,
not because it counts more than the previous ones
but because once they are included in a life,
events are arranged in an order that is not chronological but, rather,
corresponds to an inner architecture.”
“A person, for example, reads in adulthood a book that is important for him, and it makes him say, "How could I have lived without reading it!" and also, "What a pity I did not read it in my youth!" Well, these statements do not have much meaning, especially the second, because after he has read that book, his life becomes the life of a person who has read that book, and it is of little importance whether he read it early or late, because now his life before that reading also assumes a form shaped by that reading.” 10 likes
More quotes…