By Italo Calvino

A set of formerly uncollected tales from the past due Italian fabulist.

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42 Love Far from Home ‘Once I found I couldn’t make it with a girl,’ I tell her, ‘on a meadow in the mountains. The mountain was called Mount Bignone and the girl Angela Pia. A big meadow, amongst the bushes, I remember, and a cricket jumping on every leaf. That trilling of crickets, so high, no escape. She couldn’t really understand why I got up then and said that the last cable car was about to leave. ’ ‘You shouldn’t tell me this sort of thing,’ Mariamirella says. ‘There’d be no more bear nor cave either.

43 Numbers in the Dark ‘Right,’ says Mariamirella, ‘I’ve already thought of everything possible, I’ve lived hundreds of lives with my thoughts. Of marrying, of having lots of children, of having abortions, of marrying someone rich, of marrying someone poor, of becoming a high society lady, of becoming a prostitute, a dancer, a nun, a roast–chestnut seller, a star, an MP, an ambulance driver, a sportswoman. Hundreds of lives with all their details. And they all ended happily. But in real life none of those things I think ever happens.

When I was a boy I lived in a big villa, with balustrades high as if flying over the sea. And I spent my days behind those balustrades, I was a loner as a child, and for me everything was a strange symbol, the spacing of the dates hanging from the tufts on the stalks, the crooked arms of the cactuses, the strange patterns in the gravel of the paths. Then there were the grown–ups, whose job it was to deal with things, real things. All I had to do was discover new symbols, new meanings. I’ve stayed that way my whole life, I still live in a castle of meanings, not things, I still depend on the others, the ‘grown–ups’, the ones who handle things.

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