Declaração de ética, mais que de poética, as conferências que Calvino preparou para a Universidade Harvard representam o testamento artístico de um dos protagonistas literários do fim de milênio. Em meio à crise contemporânea da linguagem, cada vez mais aguda, o grande escritor italiano identifica as seis qualidades que apenas a literatura pode salvar - leveza, rapidez, exatidão, visibilidade, multiplicidade, consistência -, virtudes a nortear não apenas a atividade dos escritores mas cada um dos gestos de nossa existência. Feitas de divagações, memórias, trechos autobiográficos, as Seis propostas de Calvino constituem um precioso legado do milênio para as gerações do ano 2000.
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 that of fantastical fairy tales (Our Ancestors, Cosmicomics), although sometimes his writing is more "realistic" and in the scenic mode of observation (Difficult Loves, for example). Some of his writing has been called postmodern, reflecting on literature and the act of reading, while some has been labeled magical realist, others fables, others simply "modern". He wrote: "My working method has more often than not involved the subtraction of weight. I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities; above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language."