The Castle of Crossed Destinies

The Castle of Crossed Destinies

by Italo Calvino

Hardcover(1st Edition)

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A series of short, fantastic narratives inspired by fifteenth-century tarot cards and their archetypical images. Full-color and black-and-white reproductions of tarot cards. Translated by William Weaver.A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780151159987
Publisher: Harcourt
Publication date: 04/01/1979
Series: A Helen and Kurt Wolff Bk.
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 129

About the Author

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.

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Castle of Crossed Destinies 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
PhoenixFalls More than 1 year ago
This is kind of a splendid book. It is demanding; the reader must engage with it, examining each card as it is revealed and disputing its meaning with the narrator. It also helps to be well-versed in folklore and literature, both because recognizing many of the tales makes them more comprehensible and because Calvino's style is a strange, almost challenging mix of archaic and modern literary styles that sits uneasily on genre shelves. It actually reminds me quite a bit of Catherynne M. Valente's two-volume novel The Orphan's Tales; enough, in fact, that I wonder if she was inspired by this work. Neither novel is quite a novel, per se, but more a collection of folk tales (or short stories in the form of folk tales) wound around each other through a magical framing device; but while many readers would probably enjoy the books more by reading them that way, they ARE more than the sum of their parts. Both site themselves within and comment on the greater body of world mythology; in both the narrator is just as much a character to figure out as any of the people he/she is discussing, and it is the narrator's story that is the heart of the book. Calvino's book is not perfect; the first section, in the castle, is quite a bit more polished and satisfying as a puzzle than the second half in the tavern. The stories in the first half fit together organically, each leading into the next one and fitting together with all the others that came before in the crossword puzzle effect mentioned in the description; in the second half Calvino could not bring order to the chaos of cards, and while he made that chaos part of the novel's structure it still failed to satisfy. But despite (or possibly because of) its failings it is splendid. Glorious even. Pure, inventive literary fun.
delta351 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought the second half of the book was much better than the first. I am not familiar w tarot cards, and that made it more confusing. Plus there are some pretty heavy western European literary references to reconcile. I really enjoyed the last two stories, one of which concerned the major tragedies of Shakespeare.I did not especially like it at first, but it grows on you. Definitely will get better w successive readings. Prob best to read a chapter a day
P_S_Patrick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having read a few of Calvino's books, I can confidently say that this is not one of his best. The book relies a lot on its gimmick, for want of a better word, and while many of his other original ideas have worked brilliantly in other books, I think he labours this one past its worth. It's not a bad book, but I cannot find any particular virtue to recommend it for.
weeksj10 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very cool and creative concept, but its not my favorite Calvino. It just seems a bit muddled and confused. The characters are very deep and the story line is a bit jumpy. If you like Calvino then give it a try, but definitely don't read it as your first experience, because it may turn you off from one of the greatest writers of recent times.
Pummzie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I suspect that this was a lot more fun and frustrating and fulfilling (and any other F words that you can think of....) to write than it is to read. The beauty of his game of constructing tales from tarot cards is all in the creation. I didn't share in it in the telling other than the usual admiration I have for his quirky unique approach to story-telling.In short, a man arrives at a castle in a forest. At dinner are a bunch of other travellers who are eating in silence. He quickly realises that they and he have suddenly become mute. A pack of tarot cards is laid out on the table and different members of the party use them to illustrate their stories which our narrator attempts to interpret into a narrative. The second half of the book takes place in a tavern with similar circumstances but a less grand set of cards. This time the combination of cards illusrate well known stories, like that of Hamlet, Faust and Oedipus.Clever but like watching someone else with a rubik's cube
elissajanine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love the idea of this and was really excited to read it. The first half almost made me put the book down for good; I couldn't feel the stories as anything more than an exercise in plot-building using tarot cards. The writing in the second part was much more evocative, haunting in places. I'm glad I finished, but I admit I was left wondering if I was missing something.
shiunji on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The concept of this book, as blurbed, made it sound like a mesmerising & wonderful concoction, especially to a keen Calvino reader. It is. However, practicality & execution of this particular piece was lack lustre. For me, the gem of this little collection of stories inspired by the tarot was the pathos inducing author's afterword. Do not pick it as your introduction to this marvellous author, but look instead to the tenets of If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, Invisible Cities & Mr Palomar.
fruiter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A most splendid case of meta-textual literature! Calvino defies all canonical approaches to story-telling and reinvents many pillars of our literature. From Perceval to King Lear, from Oedipus to Hamlet, but also drawing from no specific work and writing himself into the narration as well, this fantastic author transforms all of these different stories and uses them to create a story that is more than a story; it is, more significantly, the story of crossed destinies, made real from the metaphorical crossings of tarot cards, which represent any thing the reader wills them to be. It was definitely a book that I read with all the enthusiasm of a die-hard fanfic reader & sometimes writer; I loved how the quirky and witty style of a writer who was born decades before fanfiction as we know it today existed, often prosaic and humorous, but also surprisingly apt to profound considerations, adapted itself so well to the kind of narration requested of this marvelous book.
DRFP on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a book I desperately wanted to like, but unfortunately I couldn't quite bring myself to do so.It's certainly a very clever novel, telling stories through Tarot cards, but ultimately that method of narrative is quite restricting. It's all done very well, but as said, it all gets a little tedious and the style is a bit too constraining.
rdaneel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
These are stories constructed from a deck of tarot cards. As Calvino says in an end note, the deck turned into a story generating machine for him, which is fascinating for a while, but then one wears of it. The point of the book, I guess, is that all stories (not just the ones in this book), consist of a set of common elements. However, I think he dealt with this concept better in Invisible Cities, and the tarot deck has been put to better use by Pavic in Last Love in Constantinople. Overall, this one is avoidable, unless you are a diehard Calvino fan.
hippietrail on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This one didn't work for me at all. I just didn't get it. But I'm giving Calvino another chance with If on a Winter's Night a Traveller and I'm glad I did.
dubliner More than 1 year ago
I had really high hopes for this book, and honestly, I was just a tad disappointed, but that’s more on me than the actual writing. I was looking for something with loads of plot, and substance, and while this is interesting it felt at times a bit contrived. I love the tarot, and the lore of it, and was really looking forward to this story. The crux of the story is that a bunch of people are sitting around a table and silently explaining how they got to this castle via the tarot cards. The narrator then tries to piece together the stories these folks are telling through the cards, and goes to great lengths to assure the reader that perhaps there are pieces missing and that it is just his view of their own stories. Interesting principle, but on the whole it delves too deeply into the realm of the ‘unreliable narrator’, where I as a reader was left with the question of ‘What really is the truth here’? This book is actually two different stories; the Castle of Crossed Destinies, where everyone is gathered in a castle and talking about their stories, and the Tavern of Crossed Destinies, where the tarot cards are used to explain the stories of Shakespeare and Oedipus Rex. The latter seems contrived and bland, whereas the former is missing something. There’s nothing there to make the reader truly feel for or care much about the characters, and so the whole story seems like a drop in the bucket whereas it could have been so much more. But, I soldier on to read all of Calvino’s works, because for what it’s worth I do enjoy his writing style and I think he has very important things to say, even if they don’t always fall on the mark.
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