From patronage to postcode – Peter Burke reveals how social history shaped Renaissance art in our exquisite edition illustrated with examples of the period’s great works.
Illustrated by Gérard DuBois
Introduced by Italo Calvino
Preface by Guillermo del Toro
Translated by George Martin
Fantastical monsters, daredevil youths and evil witches bound across every page of this beautiful new Folio edition of Calvino’s comprehensive collection.
’An exquisite presentation. Layout, design, typeface, illustrations - an heirloom for any library, a prized set... Proud to be a part of it!’
- Guillermo del Toro
Storytelling is intrinsically linked to cultural identity, and for Italy this means Italo Calvino. To rectify the country’s lack of a written history of its folkloric traditions, the writer was commissioned to search the length and breadth of the land, to collate and retell the treasured tales that have shaped Italy’ folk heritage. Calvino’ collection is held in such high regard that, despite its relatively recent compilation, it is fondly – and justifiably – compared to those of his Northern European counterparts, such as the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.
Calvino’s 200 tales are presented across two spectacular volumes featuring gold-blocked bindings and printed map endpapers that show each story’s provenance. With illustrations drawing on Goya’s Los Caprichos prints and an imitation snakeskin slipcase inspired by the shape-changing serpents in many of Calvino’s tales, this is a truly exceptional collector’s edition.
Bound in blocked cloth
Set in Jenson
Vol 1: 552 pages; Vol 2: 560 pages
Frontispiece and 7 colour illustrations (including 1 double-page spread) in each volume
16 black & white tailpieces in total
Textured vinyl-coated paper slipcase
10˝ x 6¾˝
Folktales that speak of universal themes
As Guillermo del Toro (director of Pan’s Labyrinth and other highly acclaimed films) writes of the tales in a preface inspired by years of immersion: ‘They lend both solace and understanding of the mysteries within us all.’ His own work is heavily influenced by the mythic and fantastical and, like his films, these Italian tales are full of omens and teachings – warnings, perhaps, transmitted by the original storytellers. Whether they were intended to ward off evil, scare children into obedience or show the price to be paid for the sins of gluttony, avarice and pride, these folktales kept people both rapt and fearful.
However, the tales also speak of bravery, strength and cunning, and there is a great deal of humour and farce, with comedic characters and situations that transcend centuries: lazy women who snare rich partners; couples who wed hastily and then uncover each other’s secrets; and the sheer abundance of farcical situations and seemingly impossible quests that underline life’s absurdities.
Familiar stories that are uniquely Italian
As with folktales the world over, Calvino’s collection abounds with natural and cosmic references, as well as kings, princesses, poor suitors, evil stepmothers and talking animals. These tales are not new; we recognise them instantly. But the beauty of Calvino’s collection is the turn of phrase, the geographical specificities – such as the hunt for a girl with skin as creamy white as ricotta – and cultural nuances that make them distinctly and uniquely Italian.
About Italo Calvino
Italo Calvino was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best-known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952–9), the Cosmicomics short stories collection (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If on a winter’s night a traveller (1979). Calvino was originally engaged by his publisher, Einaudi, to select and retell stories from the Italian oral tradition to demonstrate Italy’s wealth of folk and fairy tales compared with the better-known traditions of Northern Europe. This work was published in 1956 as Fiabe italiane, and it established Calvino as a worthy rival to the monumental Brothers Grimm, Perrault, et al. Calvino was the most translated contemporary Italian writer at the time of his death in 1985.
About Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer and novelist. As a film-maker, he tends to alternate between Spanish-language dark fantasy pieces, such as Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), and more mainstream American action films such as Hellboy (2004) and the science-fiction film Pacific Rim (2013). His 2017 fantasy film The Shape of Water was critically acclaimed and won a Golden Lion at the 74th Venice International Film Festival, as well as the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2018. His new novel, Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun, written in collaboration with Cornelia Funke, will be published in 2019, with illustrations by artist Allen Williams. All of his work is characterised by a strong connection to fairy tales, political context and horror, and he attests to a lifelong fascination with the symbolic power of monsters.
About George Martin
George Martin worked closely with Italo Calvino and with Helen Wolff, their editor at Harcourt Brace, on his translation of the Fiabe italiane. First published in 1980 and since reprinted many times, his Italian Folktales was the first complete translation to be published including all the 200 tales in the original collection, and is generally considered the most faithful to Calvino’s style and rendering. It has been praised by reviewers including Anthony Burgess, John Updike and Ursula Le Guin. Burgess admired the writing for its ‘unfolksy elegance’.
About Gérard DuBois
Gérard DuBois was born in France. He studied graphic design in Paris and then crossed the Atlantic to live in Montreal. His illustrations have appeared in major North American and European publications, among them the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, GQ, Rolling Stone, the New Yorker and Playboy, as well as more than 20 illustrated books. DuBois’s many garlands include the Hamilton King Award and four gold medals from the Society of Illustrators. His 2015 book Enfantillages was awarded a Bologna Ragazzi Award. His acrylic pieces are to be found in many private collections, including those of Stephen King and Guillermo del Toro, and Canada Post included his artwork in its 2018 Great Canadian Illustrators stamp series.
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