sturgeonslawyer (sturgeonslawyer) wrote,

The Baron in the Trees, by Italo Calvino (2019-34)

An odd bird, this little novel It feels exactly like a fantasy novel except that nothing fantastical//magickal/supernatural takes place in it. Rather, it is the working out of a simple conceit.

In 1767, Cosimo, the oldest son of a Baron with Ducal pretensions, argues with his father over a meal. Sent from the table, he goes outside, climbs a tree, and declares that he shall never come down - a declaration to which he holds steady for the rest of his days. Cosimo becomes adept at moving from tree to tree, hunting, farming, making love ... all without departing from his arboreal existence for a moment.

And that's really the whole story. Into the mix come Barbary pirates, Freemasons, Jesuits, Napoleon, and much else, but really they are just incidents.

It's a delightfully pleasant story, and a quick one, with humor, pathos, and satire inmixed in good proportions. Archibald Colquhoun's translation is quite readable. Some knowledge of the events and personae of the Age of Revolution certainly help to comprehend it, but I judge that one could enjoy it without.
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