California Italian Studies
L'ombra del padre. Il caso Calvino
- Author(s): Adami, Stefano
- et al.
The life and experiences of Italo Calvino's family in exotic places -first in Mexico, then in Cuba - has been widely discussed among Calvino scholars, and the general public. Calvino - who was born in Cuba, and lived on the island the first six years of his life, considered with care his roots in such places, and decided to celebrate his wedding with Esther Singer in Cuba. He also set some important short stories in Mexico.
The general notion about Calvino's father Mario's plan of moving from Italy to South America, has also been discussed by scholars - and by Italo Calvino himself, who when writing about his father wrote of Mario's strong desire for a new life, and his desire to know more of the world and its different cultures. He attributed these desires to his strong socialist beliefs.
In fact, a very singular event caused Mario Calvino's sudden departure from Italy. He had been framed in a complicated, unclear plot to kill the Russian Czar Nicolas II. It is a story that has never been explained in full detail; a story that Italo Calvino himself chose to forget.
This short article and attached documentation recount step by step the plot and its consequences (especially on Calvino's family), presenting and analyzing the official documents prepared on the case by the Italian Police, the Diplomatic Body, and other agencies.
A letter Italo Calvino sent in 1973 to an Italian scholar shows that he was aware of the obscure plot involving his father. This article seeks to understand when, and how Italo Calvino had been informed of the story, how the story affected the image he had of his father, the representation of father figures in his own creative works ( Il Barone rampante), and his writing about his father (La Strada di San Giovanni).