Italo Calvino

On Literature Machines & Utopia

All I am trying to do here is reconstruct a diary of my own relations with utopia, most of which are private, and to register both the high points and the low. The autonomous logico-fantastic machine is something I like insofar as (and if) it serves some real need: the need to enlarge the sphere of what we can imagine, and to introduce into our limited range of choices “absolute rejection” by means of a world thought out in all its details according to other values and other relationships. In a word, utopia not as a city that can be founded by us but that can found itself in us, build itself brick by brick in our ability to imagine it, to think it out to the ultimate degree; a city that claims to inhabit us, not to be inhabited, thus making us possible inhabitants of a third city, different from utopia and different from all the habitable or uninhabitable cities of today; a city born of the mutual impact of new conditionings, both inner and outer.

SOURCE: Calvino, Italo. “On Fourier, III: Envoi: A Utopia of Fine Dust,” in The Literature Machine: Essays, translated by Patrick Creagh (London: Secker and Warburg, 1987). Almanacco Bompiani 1974 (Milan), December 1973 [. . .] devoted to the subject “Utopia Revisited,” began with this essay, then titled “Which Utopia?”

See also:

Duncan, Dennis. “Calvino, Llull, Lucretius: Two Models of Literary Combinatorics,” Comparative Literature 64.1 (2012): 93-109.

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by R. Dumain

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Ars Combinatoria Study Guide

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A Selective Work in Progress

Reflexivity & Situatedness Study Guide

Philosophical Style: Selected Bibliography


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