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Publisher's Summary

Chosen as one of the New York Times's 10 best books in the year of its original publication, this collection immediately won a cherished place among lovers of the tale and vaulted Calvino into the ranks of the great folklorists. Introduction by the author. Translated by George Martin. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book.

©1956 Giulio Einaudi editore, s.p.a, Torino; English Translation 1980 Bargourt, Inc (P)2019 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Italian Folktales

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At Last: Unbridled Delight

“For years I have been hoping someone would record Italo Calvino’s Italian Folktales. That hasn’t happened yet, but this is just as good. Maybe even better.” -Me, 2017

I was talking about Giambattista Basile's Tale of Tales. And while those stories, told in a vigorous, verbally inventive 17th Century manner that is half charming, half scatological, offer a far more vivid experience than these somewhat restrained retellings I pined, nevertheless, for Calvino's masterpiece as well.

I read these stories out loud while drinking at college, to our kids when they were young, and have been waiting for an audiobook version since there were such things as audiobooks. For while they may lack the linguistic gymnastics of The Tale of Tales, they possess all the charm and odd, take-the-incredible-in-your-stride quality of those stories: the king who lives just across the street, the ogre who lives next door, the old woman by the side of the road who happens to be a fairy, the prince who will turn into a dragon the moment he turns 20, the innkeeper who's in charge of all the animals of earth (with, of course, two brothers who oversee, respectively, all the world’s fish and all the world’s birds).

And as if that wasn’t enough, Edoardo Ballerini reads these stories just like I used to read them to our kids. Only much better.

10 people found this helpful

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Love LOVE Love!!!!

Such a disarmingly wonderful, quirky, amusing spin on “fairy” tales—delivered by the perfect narrator. Magical!!!


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great for sleep

Inflection and volume are consistent, have not woken up to yelling out loud sounds yet. Stories are authentic so involved some gore as all folk tales do. I love this book, am very picky, and couldn’t be happier.

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entertaining and eclectic

If you are interested in a different take on the traditional fairy formula, the unique perspectives of these stories are at once familiar, dealing with magical beings, unlikely heroes, and virtue rewarded, but also contain elements not found in Grimm, such as shotguns. Well-read and satisfyingly long. One of my best loved anthologies.

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Tedious after awhile

These folktales were good, some better than others. There were a lot with very similar story lines so listening to them became tedious. It would have been nice to have print copy in order to mark the ones I especially liked. I appreciated hearing what part of Italy each folktale came from