« | 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

    • Ben on Exit Cameron: I read this in January and thought that it was scarcely believable, but said to myself that surely the UK would regain its senses in time for the refe...
    • whisperit on Divided Britain: Its hard to be optimistic. As Lynsey Hanley points out, it's all about class. But Corbyn's mumblings about "protecting workers' rights" have no tracti...
    • Peter Smith on Divided Britain: I am 82 years old; I have enjoyed a fulfilling but not especially lucrative career in Canada and the US. My father was a Suffolk house painter; my par...
    • IanHPA on Divided Britain: This artificial dichotomy between the snobbish inners and the underclass outers is an illusion. The truth is that the electorate were conned, lied to ...
    • rm1 on Divided Britain: The anti EU vote had a variety of origins, but progressives need to realise that wanting to have a say over the size of the UK's population is a legit...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement Advertisement