Why Read the Classics? (Penguin Modern Classics)

3.89 avg rating
( 1,565 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780141189703: Why Read the Classics? (Penguin Modern Classics)
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

Why Read the Classics? is an elegant defence of the value of great literature by one of the finest authors of the last century. Beginning with an essay on the attributes that define a classic (number one - classics are those books that people always say they are 'rereading', not 'reading'), this is an absorbing collection of Italo Calvino's witty and passionate criticism.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

Why read Italo Calvino's book on the classics? Because it passes his own test for what a classic is, and its brisk prose can blast your concept of the word clean of the dusty associations that cling to it. Calvino gives 14 offbeat definitions of classic, my favorite being "a work which constantly generates a pulviscular cloud of critical discourse around it, but which always shakes the particles off." His sharp essays on Conrad, Dickens, Diderot, Flaubert, Ovid, and others constitute an act of self-criticism too, a novelist's imaginative autobiography. In 1955, when rave-reviewing Robinson Crusoe, he called Daniel Defoe the "inventor of modern journalism." In 1954, he overcame his disgust with Hemingway's life "of violent tourism," coolly assessed his dry heights and sodden depths, and called himself Papa's apprentice. And the 1984 piece on Borges shows who influenced Calvino most once he'd become a master himself.

From both the American and the Argentinian, Calvino learned to be concise, and his quick sketches of books like the "unqualified masterpiece" Our Mutual Friend provide a contact high--one wants to drop everything and head straight to a library, so infectious is his enthusiasm. "How many young people will be smitten" by Stendhal's recently, brilliantly retranslated Waterloo-era adventure The Charterhouse of Parma, he writes, "recognizing it as the novel they had always wanted to read... the benchmark for all the other novels they will read in later life." Like a great teacher, Italo Calvino distills a writer's essence in a vivid phrase: money, for instance, serves as "the motive force of Balzac's narrative, the true test of feeling in Dickens; but in Mark Twain money is a game of mirrors, causing vertigo over a void." --Tim Appelo

From the Back Cover:

From the British reviews of Why Read the Classics?

"Calvino has the precious gift of introducing a work of literature so as to make it live for the reader as it does for him. . . . He explains important works of the Western canon in a style of innocent wonder."
        
-- The Times



"Enthusiasm and intelligence: these are the essential qualities of the critic. Calvino, himself a novelist of rare quality, possessed both generously. This is a book to read for itself, either again and in a new way, or for the first time."

-- The Daily Telegraph



"Most of the book gives an implicit answer to the book's title, but the opening essay attempts a direct one, and manages in just over six pages to give one of the most inspiring and least cliché-ridden justifications of great literature I've ever come upon."
        
-- The Sunday Telegraph



"Like any library worthy of its name, Why Read the Classics? is full of temptations. In the person of its whimsical author it offers us the lure of his eclectic bookshelves through which Calvino guides us, pulling out books and reading us choice passages, watching our faces for reactions of astonishment and for the pleasure of learning a few new melodies before we reach the final page."

-- The Observer



"This is a primer of the highest quality on the work of thirty-one classic writers. . . . It's also blissfully free of academic jargon and journalistic glibness, and its erudition is matched by a real, if becomingly unflaunted, passion for literature. It makes you immediately want to read the authors in question."
        
-- The Evening Standard

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Buy New View Book
List Price: US$ 22.00
US$ 10.86

Convert currency

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.

Destination, rates & speeds

Add to Basket

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780679743491: Why Read the Classics?

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0679743499 ISBN 13:  9780679743491
Publisher: Vintage, 2001
Softcover

9780679415244: Why Read the Classics?

Panthe..., 1999
Hardcover

9780224037297: Why Read the Classics?

Panthe..., 1999
Hardcover

9780676972344: Why Read the Classics?

Knopf ...
Hardcover

9780099284895: Why Read the Classics?

Vintage, 2000
Softcover

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Italo Calvino
Published by Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom (2009)
ISBN 10: 0141189703 ISBN 13: 9780141189703
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Why Read the Classics? is an elegant defence of the value of great literature by one of the finest authors of the last century. Beginning with an essay on the attributes that define a classic (number one - classics are those books that people always say they are rereading , not reading ), this is an absorbing collection of Italo Calvino s witty and passionate criticism. Seller Inventory # APG9780141189703

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 10.86
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

2.

Italo Calvino
Published by Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom (2009)
ISBN 10: 0141189703 ISBN 13: 9780141189703
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Book Depository International
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Why Read the Classics? is an elegant defence of the value of great literature by one of the finest authors of the last century. Beginning with an essay on the attributes that define a classic (number one - classics are those books that people always say they are rereading , not reading ), this is an absorbing collection of Italo Calvino s witty and passionate criticism. Seller Inventory # APG9780141189703

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 15.01
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

3.

Italo Calvino
Published by Penguin Classics (2009)
ISBN 10: 0141189703 ISBN 13: 9780141189703
New Softcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Classics, 2009. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # EH9780141189703

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 11.92
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.23
From Germany to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

4.

Italo Calvino
Published by Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN 10: 0141189703 ISBN 13: 9780141189703
New Paperback Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
THE SAINT BOOKSTORE
(Southport, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd. Paperback. Condition: New. New copy - Usually dispatched within 2 working days. Seller Inventory # B9780141189703

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 6.69
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 9.12
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

5.

Italo Calvino
ISBN 10: 0141189703 ISBN 13: 9780141189703
New Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
Speedy Hen LLC
(Sunrise, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # ST0141189703. Seller Inventory # ST0141189703

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 15.94
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

6.

Italo Calvino
Published by Penguin Classics (2009)
ISBN 10: 0141189703 ISBN 13: 9780141189703
New Paperback Quantity Available: 8
Seller:
The Monster Bookshop
(Fleckney, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Classics, 2009. Paperback. Condition: New. BRAND NEW ** SUPER FAST SHIPPING FROM UK WAREHOUSE ** 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. Seller Inventory # mon0000199808

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 10.81
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 5.24
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

7.

Italo Calvino
Published by Penguin Classics (2009)
ISBN 10: 0141189703 ISBN 13: 9780141189703
New Softcover Quantity Available: 9
Seller:
Ria Christie Collections
(Uxbridge, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Classics, 2009. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # ria9780141189703_rkm

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 11.38
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 5.08
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

8.

Calvino, Italo
Published by Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN 10: 0141189703 ISBN 13: 9780141189703
New Softcover Quantity Available: 7
Seller:
Kennys Bookstore
(Olney, MD, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd. Condition: New. 2009. Paperback. Beginning with an essay on the attributes that define a classic, this collection provides the author's criticism. Translator(s): Parks, Tim; McLaughlin, Martin; Creagh, Patrick; Weaver, William. Series: Penguin Modern Classics. Num Pages: 288 pages. BIC Classification: DN; DSBH. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 204 x 130 x 18. Weight in Grams: 224. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Seller Inventory # V9780141189703

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 16.65
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

9.

Calvino, Italo
Published by Penguin Books Ltd (2009)
ISBN 10: 0141189703 ISBN 13: 9780141189703
New Softcover Quantity Available: 7
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 2009. Condition: New. 2009. Paperback. Beginning with an essay on the attributes that define a classic, this collection provides the author's criticism. Translator(s): Parks, Tim; McLaughlin, Martin; Creagh, Patrick; Weaver, William. Series: Penguin Modern Classics. Num Pages: 288 pages. BIC Classification: DN; DSBH. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 204 x 130 x 18. Weight in Grams: 224. . . . . . . Seller Inventory # V9780141189703

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 16.88
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From Ireland to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

10.

Calvino, Italo
Published by Penguin Books Ltd (2009)
ISBN 10: 0141189703 ISBN 13: 9780141189703
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Books2Anywhere
(Fairford, GLOS, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 2009. PAP. Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from UK in 4 to 14 days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # CP-9780141189703

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 6.11
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 11.82
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book