Christmas Reading: The Path to the Nest of Spiders

I spent the Christmas holidays in Italy, at my parents’ place, which happens to be the house I grew up in.

What a coincidence.

Leaving my sarcasm aside, I have to say that I decided to drop all my readings and go for an Italian classic. I feel I am loosing a bit of my grip on the language, and I would like to read a bit more in Italian. This time, I chose The Path to the Nest of Spiders, Italo Calvino’s first novel.

Written in 1947, the story is about the Italian resistence during WWII. At the time it was a huge deal because there were (and still are) conflicting opinions about the role of the resistence in the conflict, and Calvino aimed to write an objective account, neither apologetic nor defiant. He describes this highly intricate process in the foreword, which has become a masterpiece about the resistance literature in itself.

Pin, a young boy, is the main character of the novel. The story is narrated from his point of view, and interpreted from a childish perspective. Therefore, the tone is not serious and oppressive as it could be given the setting: it sounds like an awkward fairy tale. I found the read quite hard at the beginning, because I found the POV quite unnerving at first. Furthermore, I have little experience in topics such as this, and I was afraid I could not appreciate the book. As I was reading on, however, I enjoyed the book and aknowledged the efficacy of the child’s point of view as a fictional tool aimed at a more authentical approach to the topic.

I would definitely recomend the book to Calvino’s lovers and contemporary history enthusiasts.



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