Book: Into the War


I thought it would be quite apt to start this year with the author that left such a deep impression last year. Into the war is a collection of three autobiographical stories by Italo Calvino.

Set in Italy in the summer of 1940, this trio of stories explores the relationships between the different generations caught up in the war as well as Calvino’s own experiences as a teenager. In the title story, ‘Into the War’, we are given an insight into what life was really like for those too young to be conscripted into Mussolini’s army, while in ‘The Avanguardisti in Menton’, Calvino and his friends take a revealingly anti-climactic trip to the garrisoned French town of Menton, the sole Italian conquest of the early months of the conflict. The final story, ‘UNPA Nights’, is a touching, comic tale of friendship in a blackout, where the narrator’s imagination wanders as he roams through the seedier parts of the darkened town instead of guarding the school buildings.

Into the War is Calvino at his autobiographical best, combining brilliantly recollected memory with compelling wit and perfect prose.

– Synopsis from Into the War

into the war

It’s vastly different from the complete cosmicosmics. And yet, it is equally compelling. Even though I know next to nothing about Italy’s entry into World War II, the stories contained in these book are able to transcend that knowledge gap and make a connection with the reader through pure description.

I thought that Italo Calvino was a brilliant writer because of his genius in pushing the boundaries of imagination. Into the war has shown me that he is also able to bring across the atmosphere of an event as well as the innermost feelings of characters. It’s no wonder he is lauded as a master.

I have to admit that I did not enjoy that as much as the complete cosmicosmics. It’s realistic and moralistic. It’s beautifully written. The transition from adolescence to adulthood is brought across the three stories slowly and simply. The war creeps ever closer and the effect becomes more pronounced. Yet, it’s precisely because of these things that I didn’t like it as much.

Into the war is a good read, it’s not as affecting as George Orwell’s 1984, but in the same vein, it does change your perspective, which isn’t always welcome.

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  1. […] thought that this book would be like Into the War by Italo Calvino as well, but how wrong I was. I enjoyed this collection of short stories […]



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