Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"What Passes For"--?

My friend Michael the Italianist throws new light on the pecking order in  American literature:

Calvino's reputation with the general reading public rose only after his experimental works in translation -- Cosmicomics and t zero -- were stocked in American bookstores under science fiction rather than general fiction in the 1970s and 1980s. Unlike Eco, Calvino's novels never reached the best-seller lists in the Anglo-Saxon world even though his fiction received numerous accolades from major British and American writers in the pages of the New York Review of Books, the periodical that represents the thinking of what passes for highbrow literary taste in America."
From (it is said) the Cambridge Companion to the Italian Novel.  I guess I can decode: sounds like SciFi, whatever its élan with the cognoscenti, has never made it into the mainstream.  I have to confess that I enjoy Calvino more as a critic or commentator than as a novelist, though I did enjoy Invisible Cities--which is not so much a novel as a series of marvelous tsbleaux.  He's also on as editor/introducer of a nifty little edition of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, still on display in Italian bookstores.

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