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Reading Groups

Italo Calvino and the Natural World with Antonio Romani

Once a week Saturdays, 12:00 pm EDT - 1:30 pm EDT October 15 to November 19, 2022

Online via Zoom

The ‘With Books’ option includes all titles required for this group at a 10% discount.


We’ll focus on eight stories from Marcovaldo or the Seasons in the City, and particular chapters in The Baron in the Trees and in Mr. Palomar. These three major works by Italo Calvino are connected by a thread: the author’s intimate, innovative approach to the natural world, and his awareness of the mortal wounds inflicted upon nature by the irrational, rapacious development of industrial-production-based civilization. Calvino doesn’t offer a comprehensive solution. As a writer, he tries to make his own and his readers’ disquiet as bearable as possible, through a sort of “education to pessimism” as he puts it.

Note: We’ll jump right in with Marcovaldo, so please read the stories beforehand.

  • Session I: Marcovaldo (Mushrooms in the City, A Saturday of Sun, Sand, and Sleep, The Forest on the Superhighway, A Journey with the Cows, The Wrong Stop, The Rain and the Leaves, Smoke, Wind, and Soap-Bubbles, and The Garden of Stubborn Cats)
  • Session II: The Baron in the Trees (Chapters 1, 2, 4, 10, 11, and 13)
  • Session III: The Baron in the Trees (Chapters 16, 17, 21, 22, and 23)
  • Session IV: The Baron in the Trees (Chapters 25, 26, 27, 28, and 30)
  • Session V: Mr. Palomar (1.1. Reading a Wave, 1.2.2. The Blackbird Whistle, 1.2.3. The Infinite Lawn, and 1.3.3. The Contemplation of Stars)
  • Session VI: Mr. Palomar (2.1.3 The Invasion of Starlings, 3.1.1. The Sand Garden, 3.3.1. The World Looks at the World, and 3.3.3. Learning to be Dead)
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Led by

  • Antonio Romani

    Antonio Romani

    Antonio Romani

    Antonio Romani is an essayist and translator whose writings and co-translations have appeared in A Public Space, AGNI, the Common, Tin House, the Southampton Review, and other literary journals. His essay on Elena Ferrante was cited as Notable in Best American Essays 2016. His co-translation (with Martha Cooley) of Antonio Tabucchi’s Time Ages in a Hurry appeared in 2015. Since 2014, he has led a What’s Italian? reading group at The Center.