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A.M. Gorky Institute
of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

IWL RAS Publishing

A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences


Povarskaya 25a, 121069 Moscow, Russia



Types of publications

About the author:

Ludmila E. Saburova, PhD in Philology, Associate Professor, Russian State University for the Humanities, Miusskaya sq. 6, 125993 Moscow, Russia; Senior Researcher, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 а, 121069 Moscow, Russia.


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The course of the so-called “American Lectures” prepared by Italo Calvino became the last literary work of the writer and is rightfully considered his testament. Calvino himself addresses the text to posterity, collecting in his lectures the valuable properties of literature to be preserved for the next millennium. In the era of continuous flow of information, often consisting of formulaic texts and images that have literally flooded the entire media space, Calvino warns readers about the danger looming over such a distinctive and original kind of human activity as literature. The writer seeks to talk about the special role of literature and to build its unique qualities into the perspective of the development of the rapidly changing world. The categories that gave names to the five lectures are far from generally accepted literary terminology. Moreover, the writer’s reflections go beyond both the history of literature and traditional poetics and aesthetics. Calvino’s view of literature is devoid of dogmatism and is extremely original. Analyzing different phenomena, the writer draws unexpected parallels between literary works of different countries and eras. Taking Calvino’s frame of reference as the starting point, the reader becomes a full participant in the process, unwittingly continuing to mentally string new names and works on the connecting thread discovered by the writer. The alternative theory and history of literature proposed by the writer has become an unquestionable bestseller not only among specialists, but also among the general public.

  • Keywords: Italo Calvino, lectures, aesthetics, European literature, Italian literature, poetics, theory of literature.


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