The Castle of Crossed Destinies

The Castle of Crossed Destinies

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A group of travellers chance to meet, first in a castle, then a tavern. Their powers of speech are magically taken from them and instead they have only tarot cards with which to tell their stories. What follows is an exquisite interlinking of narratives, and a fantastic, surreal and chaotic history of all human more

Product details

  • Paperback | 144 pages
  • 130 x 194 x 12mm | 117.94g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 8pp colour halftones, b&w illustrations throughout
  • 0099268051
  • 9780099268055
  • 79,295

Review Text

Italo Calvino is always a surprise, and this slim volume of involuted stories absorbs a medieval sense of superstition and astonishment into its bones. The characters - struck dumb around the dining table of a castle they stumbled upon in the forest - have nothing with which to relate the events of their journeys but a pack of tarot cards handed them by their host. The way that they interpret the images on the cards dictates their stories. In the first section ("The Castle of Crossed Destinies"), the painted Renaissance tarots are laid out like a neat parquet of magical transformations, alchemic quests, bartered souls, and near death, with each guest finding the beginning of his own tale in some card of his companion's; in the second ("The Tavern of Crossed Destinies"), while everyone scrabbles for the cheaper, printed tarots, the fantastic stories of the characters yield, by the patterns they make, the archetypal stories of our culture: Hamlet, Oedipus, Faust. Each of the sections is fully illustrated with precise miniature engravings of the cards the characters use, and there will be eight full-color reproductions of tarots painted by Bonifacio Bembo for the Dukes of Milan in the 15th century. But this is by no means a pretty picture book: the narrative is lean and clear and an unusual delight. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Italo Calvino

Italo Calvino was born in Cuba and grew up in Italy. During the war he was a member of the Italian Resistance and joined the Communist Party, although he later left in 1957. One of the most respected writers of our time, his best-known works of fiction include Invisible Cities, If on a winter's night a traveller, Marcovaldo and Mr Palomar. In 1981 he was awarded the prestigious French Legion d'Honneur. He died in Siena in more

Review quote

"A work that celebrates storytelling... Magical." -- Fiona Wilson The Times "The interlinking of tales is incredibly complex and subtle: a history of all human consciousness through the myths of Oedipus, Parsifal, Faust, Hamlet and so on. The Castle of Crossed destinies is a shamelessly original work of art-beautiful in the sense that it is the careful statement of an artist we have learned to trust" New Yorker "Italo Calvino has advanced far beyond his American and English contemporaries. As they continue to look for the place where the spiders make their nests, Calvino has not only found this special place but learned how himself to make fantastic webs of prose to which all things adhere" -- Gore Vidal "The marriage of the verbal and the visual in The Castle of Crossed Destinies seems almost prodigious. It is as if sulpher and mercury had at last fused into gold" Times Literary Supplementshow more