Italo Calvino, a literary critic and novelist, was born on October 15, 1923 in Cuba, to Italian parents, and grew up in San Remo, Italy. During World War II, Calvino joined the Italian Resistance and the Italian Communist Party. In 1945 he began his career as a journalist, working for the Communist periodical L'Unitá (he would leave the Communist Party in 1952). In 1947 he graduated from the University of Turin, and published his first novel, Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno (The Path to the Nest of Spiders).
In the 1960s, Calvino became part of OULIPO (short for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle), a French literary group that promoted the development of various forms of constraints to create new literary techniques.
Calvino died of a cerebral hemorrhage on September 19, 1985.
Calvino's novels frequently deal with the fantastic. In Le cittá invisibili (Invisible Cities, 1972), Marco Polo invents imaginary cities to entertain Kubla Khan. In Marcovaldo (1963), the title character, a poor Italian laborer, transcends his everyday experience through daydreaming and identifying the fantastic in the mundane. Calvino also experimented with narrative in his novel Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore (If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, 1979), which places the reader in the role of the book's protagonist and is comprised of chapters that are separate, stylistically different and interrupted plotlines.