Fantastical monsters, daredevil youths and evil witches are all found in this beautiful edition of Italo Calvino’s collection of Italian Folktales. Despite its relatively recent compilation, the title is mentioned in the same breath as its Northern European counterparts, such as The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.
In a preface unique to this edition, Oscar-winning® director Guillermo del Toro says: ‘They lend both solace and understanding of the mysteries within us all.’ Del Toro’s own work is heavily influenced by the mythic and fantastical and, like his films, these Italian tales are full of omens and teachings. Not only does del Toro situate Calvino’s tales alongside the canonical collections of Boccaccio, Pitrè and Basile, as well as in comparison to Grimms’ and La Fontaine’s, he also revels in their contemporary resonance through the work of Pasolini, Borges and Disney.
As with folktales the world over, Calvino’s collection abounds with natural and cosmic references, as well as kings, princesses, poor suitors, evil stepmothers and talking animals. These tales are not new – we recognise them instantly – but the beauty of Calvino’s collection is the turn of phrase, the geographical specificities – such as the hunt for a girl with skin as creamy white as ricotta – and cultural nuances that make them distinctly and uniquely Italian.
In this lavish Folio Society edition, Calvino’s 200 tales are presented across two spectacular volumes that include illustrations by renowned Canadian artist Gérard DuBois and map endpapers charting the tale’s locations.
Del Toro says of the magnificent tome: “Calvino’s tales are presented here as the perfect encapsulation of the Italian soul – feet firmly planted on the earth, head turned defiantly towards heaven – in the understanding that fables are no escape from this world, but rather a companion to it.”
The Folio Society edition of Italian Folktales, compiled, edited and introduced by Italo Calvino with preface by Guillermo del Toro and illustrated by Gérard DuBois, is available exclusively from The Folio Society.