Jonathan Lethem on Italo Calvino
Sunday December 4, 2016
In 1984, Italo Calvino was invited to give the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University. Before his death he was able to complete five of the six planned lectures on the imaginative possibilities of language and literature. The lectures, collected as Six Memos for the Next Millennium, are now available in a celebrated new translation by Geoffrey Brock.
We were thrilled to welcome NBCC Award-winner and MacArthur Fellow Jonathan Lethem (Dissident Gardens, Chronic City, The Fortress of Solitude, Motherless Brooklyn and A Gambler's Anatomy) who presented his thoughts about the first lecture in Six Memos..., 'Lightness,' and discussed the profound effect Calvino's work had on his writing practice.
This event is in partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute of New York and Giovanna Calvino.
*This event will take place at the Brooklyn Historical Society Great Hall
More about Six Memos for the Next Millennium
At the time of his death, Italo Calvino was at work on six lectures setting forth the qualities in writing he most valued, and which he believed would define literature in the century to come. Here, in Six Memos for the Next Millennium, are the five lectures he completed, forming not only a stirring defense of literature, but also an indispensable guide to the writings of Calvino himself. He devotes one “memo” each to the concepts of lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, and multiplicity, drawing examples from his vast knowledge of myth, folklore, and works both ancient and modern. Readers will be astonished by the prescience of these lectures, which have only gained in relevance as Calvino’s “next millennium” has dawned.
Italo Calvino (1923–1985) attained worldwide renown as one of the twentieth century's greatest storytellers. Born in Cuba, he was raised in San Remo, Italy, and later lived in Turin, Paris, Rome, and elsewhere. Among his many works are Invisible Cities, If on a winter's night a traveler, The Baron in the Trees, and other novels, as well as numerous collections of fiction, folktales, criticism, and essays. His works have been translated into dozens of languages.
Jonathan Lethem is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including Dissident Gardens, Chronic City, The Fortress of Solitude, and Motherless Brooklyn, and of the essay collection The Ecstasy of Influence, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. A recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Lethem’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and The New York Times, among other publications. His most recent book, A Gambler's Anatomy, was published in October.