The Baron in the Trees (Il barone rampante)  – ★★★1/2
The Baron in the Trees is the fourth book of Italian author Italo Calvino (Invisible Cities ), telling of a young man, Cosimo, of the eighteenth century who decides to live on trees, never going down, sticking to his own principle that he would never touch the ground again. His family soon realises that what might have started as a childish tantrum has transformed into something big and life-changing. In time, Cosimo manages not only to live on the trees, but also to hunt, cook food, sleep and wash his clothes up there. He makes himself useful to others and develops friendship with a local girl Viola. The exploration of the new world of Cosimo up in the trees is fascinating and Calvino’s existentialist concept of one man eschewing society and its norms is appealing. It is then even more surprising to learn that, unfortunately, The Baron in the Trees is also quite plot-less and, in the end, delivers little by way of substance.
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The Betrothed [1827/1972] – ★★★★★
The Betrothed is an Italian classic by Alessandro Manzoni, the man who happened to be the grandson of Cesare Beccaria, the world-famous criminologist and philosopher. The novel is set in medieval Italy where two lovers (Renzo and Lucia) are prevented from marrying by a cowardly priest. From this flows all sorts of misunderstandings and advances from corrupt regimes as the two lovers are trying to overcome numerous obstacles and go through life trials (including a war, a plague and famine) on their path to a reunion. Beautifully translated from the Italian by Bruce Penman and boasting colourful and memorable characters, this classic tale from Italy is about undying love, faith, hope and perseverance in the face of oppression, betrayal and despair.
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Being a voracious reader of classics, I have decided to give this tag a go. I first saw the tag on Supernova Writes, but the original creator is It’s a Books World.
I. An overhyped classic you really didn’t like:
This is hard because I like most classics. I guess I did not particularly like Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. I do not consider it too overhyped, but I simply did not enjoy it, be it the story or the style, and I really did try since I read it at least twice. Perhaps, some doses of magical realism do not agree with me at all.
II. Favourite time period to read about:
I am not picky and I enjoy novels set from ancient history to modern times. If I have to choose, I will go for the 19th century or early 20th century-set novels. There is just something fascinating about this period, and the earliest novels of Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle are the best detective stories in the world. Continue reading “The Classics Book Tag”