Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A collection of quotes and thoughts by Italo Calvino on books, classics, literature, meaning, reading, words, humor, melancholy, love, dreams, night and sex.

95 Thought-Provoking Quotes By Italo Calvino That You Must Know

Quick Facts

Famous As: Writer, Poet, Politician, Journalist, Reporter, Essayist, Novelist, Literary editor, Screenwriter, Science fiction writer, Children's writer

Born On: October 15, 1923

Died On: September 19, 1985

Born In: Santiago de Las Vegas

Founder / Co Founder: MUL (University Liberal Movement)

Died At Age: 61

Italo Calvino was one of the best Italian fiction writers of the 20th century whose TRP rested in his whimsical and imaginative fables. A journalist, short story writer and novelist, Calvino’s best bet came with his the ‘Cosmicomics’ collection of short stories, the novels ‘Invisible Cities’ and ‘If on a winter's night a traveler’ and ‘Our Ancestors’ trilogy. Such was the popularity of Calvino’s work that he became one of the most translated contemporary Italian writers at the time of his death. A tough contender for ‘Nobel Prize in Literature’, Calvino achieved success not just in Italy but overseas as well, as his books were read by readers from Britain to Australia. Calvino’s style interestingly evolved over the period of his career. From fictional work, he switched to fantasy and allegory, producing stories that brought him international acclaim. In his works, Calvino played with the innovative structures and shifting viewpoints to examine the nature of chance, coincidence and change. His brilliance in the art of writing is also visible in the words of wisdom that he left behind which are till date quoted extensively. They cover various aspects of life and living, like politics, meaning of life, happiness, governance, family and so on, providing the food for thought. With this section, explore some of the famous quotes and thoughts by Italo Calvino. 

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.

Italo Calvino

Melancholy is sadness that has taken on lightness.

Italo Calvino

Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.

Italo Calvino

Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.

Italo Calvino

What harbor can receive you more securely than a great library?

Italo Calvino

The ideal place for me is the one in which it is most natural to live as a foreigner.

Italo Calvino

The things that the novel does not say are necessarily more numerous than those it does say and only a special halo around what is written can give the illusion that you are reading also what is not written.

Italo Calvino

One reads alone, even in another's presence.

Italo Calvino

Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combinatoria of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined?

Italo Calvino

Reading is going toward something that is about to be, and no one yet knows what it will be.

Italo Calvino

Falsehood is never in words; it is in things.

Italo Calvino

You take delight not in a city's seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.

Italo Calvino

The ultimate meaning to which all stories refer has two faces: the continuity of life, the inevitability of death.

Italo Calvino

Work stops at sunset. Darkness falls over the building site. The sky is filled with stars. "There is the blueprint," they say.

Italo Calvino

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.

Italo Calvino

I will start out this evening with an assertion: fantasy is a place where it rains.

Italo Calvino

Elsewhere is a negative mirror. The traveler recognizes the little that is his, discovering the much he has not had and will never have.

Italo Calvino

Futures not achieved are only branches of the past: dead branches.

Italo Calvino

Nobody these days holds the written word in such high esteem as police states do.

Italo Calvino

Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased.

Italo Calvino

…we can not love or think except in fragments of time each of which goes along its own trajectory and immediately disappears.

Italo Calvino

You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler.

Italo Calvino

The novels that attract me most... are those that create an illusion of transperancy around a knot of human relationships as obscure, cruel and perverse as possible.

Italo Calvino

There is no language without deceit.

Italo Calvino

It's better not to know authors personally, because the real person never corresponds to the image you form of him from reading his books.

Italo Calvino

One should be light like a bird and not like a feather.

Italo Calvino

Don't ask where the rest of this book is!" It is a shrill cry that comes from an undefined spot among the shelves. "All books continue in the beyond...

Italo Calvino

Today each of you is the object of the other’s reading, one reads in the other the unwritten story.

Italo Calvino

The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand

Italo Calvino

Every new book I read comes to be a part of that overall and unitary book that is the sum of my readings...if you need little to set the imagination going, I require even less: the promise of reading is enough.

Italo Calvino

How well I would write if I were not here!

Italo Calvino

In politics, as in every other sphere of life, there are two important principles for a man of any sense: don't cherish too many illusions, and never stop believing that every little bit helps.

Italo Calvino

...Life is nothing but trading smells.

Italo Calvino

Every choice has its obverse, that is to say a renunciation, and so there is no difference between the act of choosing and the act of renouncing

Italo Calvino

The universe will express itself as long as somebody will be able to say, "I read, therefore it writes.

Italo Calvino

So you begin to wonder if Leonia's true passion is really, as they say, the enjoyment of new and different things, and not, instead, the joy of expelling, discarding, cleansing itself of a recurrent impurity.

Italo Calvino

Fantasy is like jam. . . . You have to spread it on a solid piece of bread. If not, it remains a shapeless thing . . . out of which you can’t make anything.

Italo Calvino

I felt a kind of vertigo, as if I were merely plunging from one world to another, and in each I arrived shortly after the end of the world had taken place.

Italo Calvino

Time is a catastrophe, perpetual and irreversible.

Italo Calvino

If a lover is wretched who invokes kisses of which he knows not the flavor, a thousand times more wretched is he who has had a taste of the flavor and then had it denied him.

Italo Calvino

Reading is solitude.

Italo Calvino

The city is redundant: it repeats itself so that something will stick in the mind. […] Memory is redundant: it repeats signs so that the city can begin to exist.

Italo Calvino

A classic is the term given to any book which comes to represent the whole universe, a book on a par with ancient talismans.

Italo Calvino

At times the mirror increases a thing’s value, at times denies it.

Italo Calvino

Seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space

Italo Calvino

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 abyss.

Italo Calvino

...And meanwhile the Galaxy ran through space and left behind those signs old and new and I still hadn't found mine.

Italo Calvino

Sometimes one who thinks himself incomplete is merely young.

Italo Calvino

It is only through the confining act of writing that the immensity of the nonwritten becomes legible

Italo Calvino

You'll understand when you've forgotten what you understood before

Italo Calvino

Memory really matters...only if it enables us to become without ceasing to be, and to be without ceasing to become.

Italo Calvino

In general confusion youth recognizes itself and rejoices.

Italo Calvino

Maybe you have to become a mother to get to the real sense of everything. Or a prostitute.

Italo Calvino

When you're young, all evolution lies before you, every road is open to you, and at the same time you can enjoy the fact of being there on the rock, flat mollusk-pulp, damp and happy.

Italo Calvino

What matters is not the enclosure of the work within a harmonious figure, but the centrifugal force produced by it -- a plurality of language as a guarantee of a truth that is not merely partial.

Italo Calvino

The sea where living creatures were at one time immersed is now enclosed within their bodies.

Italo Calvino

We all have a secret wound which we are fighting to avenge.

Italo Calvino

Again I am torn between the necessity and the impossibility of answering.

Italo Calvino

I've been in love for five hundred million years…

Italo Calvino

The cemetery is the home of those who are not here, come in.

Italo Calvino

In the morning you wake from one bad dream and another begins.

Italo Calvino

The catalogue of forms is endless: until every shape has found its city, new cities will continue to born. When the forms exhaust their variety and come apart, the end of cities begins.

Italo Calvino

Although science interests me just because of its efforts to escape from anthropomorphic knowledge, I am nonetheless convinced that our imagination cannot be anything but anthropomorphic.

Italo Calvino

But in vain I set out to visit the city: forced to remain motionless and always the same, in order to be more easily remembered, Zora has languished, disintegrated, disappeared. The earth has forgotten her.

Italo Calvino

...eyes that, like those of children, look at an eternal present without forgiveness.

Italo Calvino

If the spark doesn't come, that's a pity; but we do not read the classics out of duty or respect, but only out of love.

Italo Calvino

I am a Saturn who dreams of being a Mercury, and everything I write reflects these two impulses.

Italo Calvino

It is not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear.

Italo Calvino

Life, thought the naked man, was a hell, with rare moments recalling some ancient paradise.

Italo Calvino

L'aspetto in cui l'amplesso e la lettura s'assomigliano di pi che al loro interno s'aprono tempi e spazi diversi dal tempo e dallo spazio misurabili.

Italo Calvino

And when my spirit wants no stimulus or nourishment save music, I know it is to be sought in cemeteries: the musicians hide in the tombs; from grave to grave flute trills, harp chords answer one another.

Italo Calvino

From this arid sphere every discourse and every poem sets forth; and every journey through forests, battles, treasures, banquets, bedchambers, brings us back here, to the center of an empty horizon.

Italo Calvino

And Marco's answer was: 'Elsewhere is a negative mirror. The traveler recognizes the little that is his, discovering the much he has not had and will never have.

Italo Calvino

Of course, the ideal position for reading is something you can never find.

Italo Calvino

Fantasy is a place where it rains.

Italo Calvino

When the olfactory alphabet, which made them so many words in a precious lexicon, is forgotten, perfumes will be left speechless, inarticulate, illegible.

Italo Calvino

Her friends' lips were red, their teeth white, and their tongues and gums were pink. Pink, too, were the tips of their breasts. Their eyes were aquamarine blue, cherry-black, hazel and maroon.

Italo Calvino

Your case gives me new hope," I said to him. "With me, more and more often I happen to pick up a novel that has just appeared and I find myself reading the same book I have read a hundred times.

Italo Calvino

... we cannot love or think except in fragments of time each of which goes off along its own trajectory and immediately disappears.

Italo Calvino

The unconscious is the ocean of the unsayable, of what has been expelled from the land of language, removed as a result of ancient prohibitions.

Italo Calvino

You're the absolute protagonist of this book, very well; but do you believe that gives you the right to have carnal relations with all the female characters?

Italo Calvino

The dream of being invisible . . . When I find myself in an environment where I can enjoy the illusion of being invisible, I am really happy.

Italo Calvino

We'll make an army in the trees and bring the earth and the people on it to their senses.

Italo Calvino

The more time passed, the less happened. The more they felt something must happen, the more the bailiffs realized they had to do something but the less they understood what it was.

Italo Calvino

With the smell of beer I try to get the smell of death off me. And only the smell of death will get the smell of beer off you, like all the drinkers whose graves I have to dig.

Italo Calvino

No, memory is true as long as you do not set it, as long as it is not enclosed in a form.

Italo Calvino

The fact is that I find in the day's light, in this diffused, pale, almost shadowless luminosity, a darkness deeper than the night's.

Italo Calvino

If you want to know how much darkness there is around you, you must sharpen your eyes, peering at the faint lights in the distance.

Italo Calvino

A poor writer is one who names rather than represents.

Italo Calvino