« | Home | »

A Well Known Case of Forgery

Tags: | | | |

Following the revelations in La Repubblica that a supposed interview with Philip Roth published in Libero last November was a complete fabrication, I got in touch with a few Italian novelists to ask them what they thought about the affair. Most of them politely declined to be interviewed, but Italo Calvino – I found his number in an old Turin phonebook mouldering among the carboys in the cellar; I can’t think how it got there – was generous enough to give me a few minutes of his time. My computer unfortunately wiped the recording of our conversation before I was able fully to transcribe it, but here’s what I’ve managed to salvage from my fragmentary notes. It was a bad line, and my Italian isn’t all it might be, but this is more or less how the conversation went:

LRB: Hello. Is that Italo Calvino?

Calvino: I would have a hard time explaining that I came in because I heard the telephone ring.

LRB: Right. I was wondering what you thought about the fake interview with Philip Roth in Libero.

Calvino: It’s a well known case of forgery!

LRB: I don’t suppose you read the original interview? Did it sound like Roth to you?

Calvino: Who ever said this author had an unmistakeable tone?

LRB: Fair point. There’s also the question of the translation, of course.

Calvino: Little by little you will manage to understand something more about the origins of the translator’s machinations.

LRB [beginning to lose the thread]: OK… Er, what do you think of Roth’s work generally?

Calvino: He is known as an author who changes greatly from one book to the next.

LRB: I suppose he is. Have you read The Humbling?

Calvino: It’s not too long, fortunately. Long novels written today are perhaps a contradiction.

LRB: And what about this character Debenedetti, the alleged interviewer? What do you suppose he thought he was doing, if he even exists?

Calvino [at last sounding interested]: The true authors remain those who for him were only a name on a jacket, a word that was part of the title, authors who had the same reality as their characters, as the places mentioned in the books, who existed and didn’t exist at the same time, like those characters and those countries. The author was an invisible point from which the books came, a void travelled by ghosts, an underground tunnel that put other worlds in communication with the chicken coop of his boyhood…

LRB: The chicken coop? What chicken coop? What do you…?

But he had rung off.

Comments on “A Well Known Case of Forgery”

  1. Nouns says:

    No, surely a rabbit hutch!

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • michael bosley on Divided Britain: My concern with your take, timsossidge, is that you appear to have taken the analysis of the problems offered by Farage and co entirely at face value....
    • Alan Benfield on Divided Britain: Ah, so here we get down to it: it's 'little England' we are talking about. "Only 45 % of Londoners identify as ‘ White British'" - what's that al...
    • Joe Morison on Historic Failure: Only 37.5% of the total electorate voted Leave. That's fine for a general election which can be undone in a few years; but that so many of the young,...
    • timsossidge on Divided Britain: yes so England as of mid 2013 had ( as a stand alone country ) 413 people per sq km compared to Hollands 409 at the same date .Only 45 % of London...
    • Bernard Porter on Historic Failure: I don't usually reply to pseudonymous comments, but I feel I need to defend myself against the 'appalling' charge here. As is obvious from the context...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement Advertisement