Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Six Memos For The Next Millennium” as Want to Read:
Six Memos For The Next Millennium
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Six Memos For The Next Millennium

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  7,053 ratings  ·  502 reviews
Six Memos for the Millennium is a collection of five lectures Italo Calvino was about to deliver at the time of his death. Here is his legacy to us: the universal values he pinpoints become the watchwords for our appreciation of Calvino himself.

What should be cherished in literature? Calvino devotes one lecture, or memo to the reader, to each of five indispensable qualitie
Paperback, 128 pages
Published 1996 by Vintage (first published 1988)
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 Six Memos For The Next Millennium, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Antonio Gallo Il libro porta la data del 1985, a distanza di trenta anni abbiamo bisogno proprio di queste cinque realtà esistenziali sulle qualvi vale la pena rifl…moreIl libro porta la data del 1985, a distanza di trenta anni abbiamo bisogno proprio di queste cinque realtà esistenziali sulle qualvi vale la pena riflettere.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,053 ratings  ·  502 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Six Memos For The Next Millennium
Ahmad Sharabiani
Lezioni americane: sei proposte per il prossimo millennio = Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Italo Calvino

Six Memos for the Next Millennium is a book based on a series of lectures written by Italo Calvino for the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard, but never delivered as Calvino died before leaving Italy.

The lectures were originally written in Italian and translated by Patrick Creagh. The lectures were to be given in the fall of 1985, and Memos was published in 1988. The memos are lectu
Riku Sayuj
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it

This is a series of lectures and in each of them Calvino takes it upon himself to recommend to the next millennium a particular literary value which he holds dear, and has tried to embody in his work. That way this book becomes not only a manifesto on how to write but also a guide to interpreting Calvino’s writings.

1) Lightness: not frivolity but a lightness of touch that allows the writer and reader to soar above the paralyzing heaviness of the world.
2) Quickness: the mental speed of the narra
Simona B
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(English review at the bottom)

Per spiegarvi perché bisognerebbe leggere questo saggio a tutti, anche a chi di letteratura non gliene importa e non ne mastica, userò una citazione, una soltanto.

Siamo nella prima lezione, Leggerezza. Uno degli emblemi di questo valore per Calvino è il Cavalcanti protagonista della novella VI,9 del Decameron, un personaggio silenzioso, solitario, un personaggio, anche, che all'inizio della novella in questione sembra molte cose, ma non leggero: è un intellettuale,
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let's start with the fact that Italo Calvino is one of my favorite writers of all time. His crystalline surrealism, easy tone (at least in translation), and whimsical subjects (by which I mean situations and characters, inclusive) are, to me, compelling. To say that I went into this book with a favorable view of the author would be a gross understatement. I absolutely adore Calvino's work.

Now, I am also discovering that I don't really like many books about writing. Moorcock's Death is No Obstacl
L.S. Popovich
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2019, italy, 4-star
Calvino's lectures, prepared but not delivered late in his career, are just as thought-provoking as his fiction. He discusses some key, broad aspects of literature, and his personal discoveries of certain propulsive forces in writing. His discussion of Multiplicity I found most interesting, and the way he categorized encyclopedic and plural texts. It will certainly aid your understanding if you are already familiar with Flaubert, Gadda, Balzac, Ovid, Dante, Boccaccio, Shakespeare, Mann, Goethe, ...more
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I would not be so drastic. I think we are always searching for something hidden or merely potential or hypothetical, following its traces whenever they appear on the surface. I think our basic mental processes have come down to us through every period of history, ever since our Paleolithic forefathers, who were hunters and gatherers. The word connects the visible trace with the invisible thing, the absent thing, the thing that is desired or feared, like a frail emergency bridge flung over an aby ...more
Sumirti Singaravel

INTERVIEWER: What place, if any at all, does delirium have in your working life?

ITALO CALVINO: Delirium? . . . Let’s assume I answer, I am always rational. Whatever I say or write, everything is subject to reason, clarity, and logic. What would you think of me? You’d think I’m completely blind when it comes to myself, a sort of paranoiac. If on the other hand I were to answer, Oh, yes, I am really delirious; I always write as if I were in a trance, I don’t know how I write such crazy
Mar 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who care about literature as a medium
Calvino is just so effortlessly wonderful. He and literature have a very intimate relationship and she tells him secrets about herself that no one else gets to hear. Until now! Calvino spills the beans on what are the qualities he feels are most important to the literature of the future: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, and multiplicity.

I think my favorites were lightness and multiplicity considering that quickness, exactitude, and visibility seem to be very self-evidently positive
Nate D
Italo Calvino, given the meticulousness and conceptual cohesion of his storytelling, is an unsurprisingly lucid theorist as well. Among his final works, these five essays were drawn from lectures he he was prevented from delivering by his death in 1985, each covering a different literary trait he most valued. (A 6th was never written down.) Equally ordered and discursive, each offers insight into Calvino's writing (though much of it this is self-evident in the writing, as well), commentary on li ...more
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a series of lectures on literature and art--he weaves in themes of light, speed, vision, and uses mythology, poetry, and literature to talk about great writing and art. The lectures are so very well written and well-thought out. I will be coming back to them again and again.
Jim Coughenour
After posting a couple grumbling reviews, I owe the world of authors some gratitude. I first read Calvino's little book in 1988 and periodically I pick it up and read parts of it again. Six Memos are actually five lectures – illuminating the qualities Calvino most valued in fiction: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility and multiplicity. What's almost miraculous is that Calvino's lectures are perfect examples of the virtues he celebrates – graceful, amused, lustrous with civilized intelli ...more
Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I've had the uncanny experience of having read this book around when it came out and forgotten most of it, yet rereading it is sort of like being under hypnosis, as it essentially embodies a great deal of what I strive for in my own aesthetic and weltanschauung and how I prepare food and live when you get down to it. In his ode to lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, and multiplicity, Calvino dazzles in his apparently effortless incorporation of all of these qualities, even while admitt ...more
It sounds weird and slightly retarded to say it, but Calvino was good with words.

Revisiting a great many themes he discussed in The Uses of Literature, he breaks down what he values in reading and writing, and shows examples of the qualities he admires. Throughout, he's an entirely witty, charming commentator. I mean, the categories for literature that he espouses sometimes seem a wee bit arbitrary, but I didn't really care. He makes his case and makes it well.
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to my kid brother Simon for the rec
Farhan Khalid
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lectures, italy

I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies. Sometimes from cities

At certain moments I felt that the entire world was turning into stone

With myths, one should not be in a hurry

It is better to let them settle into the memory

It is true that software cannot exercise its powers of lightness except through the weight of hardware

The iron machines still exist, but they obey the orders of weightless bits


Death is hidden in clocks

Tristram Shandy d
Walter Schutjens
This book contains many insightful passages on the nature of how literature shapes the world around us, and ultimately our identity.

“My discomfort arises from the loss of form that I notice in life, which I try to oppose with the only weapon I can think of, an idea of literature”

Why it is important to be able to fantasize those things greater than the self, and if this greater collective of ideas and reference points creates a novel of multiplicity or simply confusion. How the use of language
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, essays
I just had the nasty experience of writing a review of this book which Goodreads lost somewhere between the moons of Uranus and the neighborhood of Alpha Centauri. Phoooey!

To summarize briefly, Italo Calvino chooses six (actually five) traits he would like to see carried forward into a millennium which, alas, he did not live to see.It almost doesn't matter what these traits are: It only matters that Calvino took all of literature and examined it through his jeweler's loupe, showing us new relati
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So good. Not gonna pull any quotes or really sum anything up here. I think my friends would all like this book.
Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, and Multiplicity are the five memos Calvino completed for the 1985-86 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard. He died before completing the sixth memo, Consistency. The five we have are gems, and hopeful ones at that: "My confidence in the future of literature consists in the knowledge that there are things that only literature can give us, by means specific to it," he writes in a prefatory note, and proceeds to describe the qualities he values in ...more
Sep 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers
Calvino nails it:

"It sometimes seems to me that a pestilence has struck the human race in its most distinctive faculty--that is, the use of words. It is a plague afflicting language, revealing itself as a loss of cognition and immediacy, an automatism that tends to level out all expression into the most generic, anonymous, and abstract formulas, to dilute meanings, to blunt the edge of expressiveness, extinguishing the spark that shoots out from the collision of words and new circumstances.
Giuseppe Porcaro
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
That's one of the best books I ever read about writing. ...more
Mason Miller-Breetz
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
a trove!!!!!!! a trove
Shuhan Rizwan
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it
"...Literature is the Promised Land in which language becomes what it really ought to be...." ...more
Dana Safian
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I need some time to grasp the whole thing.I'm sure this is one of those books that I'll be looking back at every six month or something...Calvino is an amazing "reader".One of the virtues of this book is that you get familiar with some excellent books you've never heard of.The book gets a little bit vague sometimes but I decided to ignore it and enjoy the context.
"Six memos..." is consisted of actually five lectures on:Lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility , multiplicity and the last lect
Jan van Leent
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, art, literature
"Six memos for the next Millennium" by Italo Calvino is a collection of five Charles Eliot Norton Lectures written in 1985/1986 about what should be cherished in literature with intriguing titles:
1 – Lightness,
2 – Quickness,
3 – Exactitude,
4 – Visibility,
5 – Multiplicity
and the never written memo "6 – Consistency".

In my opinion these lectures transcend “Goodreads”, these lectures are a must-reads for every serious writer and reader!

The third memo by Italo Calvino – Exactitude – begins as follows:
Pat Settegast
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Six Memos represents the English translations of essays on literature prepared by Italo Calvino for the Eliot Norton Lectures. Tragically, Calvino died a few months before delivering his discussions, but the existing manuscript was discovered by his widow, Esther, “all in perfect order, in the Italian original, on his writing desk ready to be put into his suitcase.”

Completed herein are five of the six “memos”: Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, and Multiplicity with Consistency being
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Re-read, slowly, after many years. A slim book about meditations on literary values, full of poignant little stories. The themes are: Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility and Multiplicity.

In the Quickness chapter Calvino talks about the 'object of power' as protagonist, and about repeated situations, phrases and formulas, as so often found in fairy tales. He considers the importance of difference, not blunting but sharpening differences. He offers examples from literature regarding vast
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Believe me i have not read any of Calvino fictions works till now.This is my first read.I really loved it for the very reason for the play of dialectics.He never talks about weight instead he talk about lightness, similarly [Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, and Multiplicity]. As with many authors he never use the code of mysticism, instead indulge in scientific theories to prove his point. That is the factor which interested me, gives the hope that these things are possible.
Judith Shadford
Mar 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Very much worth reading, not least because Calvino's approach to writing is so different from my own mentors. And the literature referenced so different from my reading (which never has been the original Italian!) I loved his first section on Lightness, not least because he quotes the Perseus-Medusa story in such wonderful detail. That metaphor will stay with me a long time. ...more
Chanel Earl
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chanel by: Nicole
This book contains five essay, which each discuss a characteristic of good writing. I like the essays on lightness, quickness, exactitude and multiplicity. The essay on visibility lost me.

I think the overabundance of foreign languages was also annoying.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Moon and the Bonfire
  • L'acqua del lago non è mai dolce
  • Questa è l'America: Storie per capire il presente degli Stati Uniti e il nostro futuro
  • Una storia americana. Joe Biden, Kamala Harris e una nazione da ricostruire
  • Il silenzio è cosa viva: L'arte della meditazione
  • Sembrava bellezza
  • Potere alle parole
  • Dialoghi con Leucò
  • La casa in collina
  • Bianco è il colore del danno
  • Zeno's Conscience
  • Lessico famigliare
  • Il mestiere di scrivere: esercizi, lezioni, saggi di scrittura creativa
  • Sostiene Pereira
  • Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi
  • Il ventre di Napoli
  • Il più grande uomo scimmia del Pleistocene
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

News & Interviews

  Here at Goodreads, we've noticed that a funny thing tends to happen when we start talking about audiobooks: The same few titles get...
4 likes · 1 comments
“I will start out this evening with an assertion: fantasy is a place where it rains.” 83 likes
“Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combination of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly shuffled and reordered in every way conceivable.” 74 likes
More quotes…