The Nonexistent Knight & The Cloven Viscount
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The Nonexistent Knight & The Cloven Viscount

by Italo Calvino
Release date: 1962
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasy, collection, mainstream
Tags: translation

An omnibus edition.

  • The Nonexistent Knight (Il cavaliere inesistente, 1959)
  • The Cloven Viscount (Il visconte dimezzato, 1952)

The Viscount Medardo of Terralba, and his squire Kurt, ride across the plague-ravaged plain of Bohemia en route to join the Christian army in the Turkish wars of the seventeenth century. On the first day of fighting, a Turkish swordsman unhorses the inexperienced Viscount. Fearless, he scrambles over the battlefield with sword bared, and is split in two by a cannonball hitting him square in the chest.

As a result of the injury, Viscount Medardo becomes two people: Gramo (the Bad) and Buono (the Good). The army field doctors save Gramo through a stitching miracle, the Viscount is “alive and cloven.” With one eye and a dilated single nostril, he returns to Terralba, twisting the half mouth of his half face into a scissors-like half smile. Meanwhile, a group of hermits find Buono in the midst of a pile of dead bodies. They tend to him and he recovers. After a long pilgrimage, Buono returns home.

updated 2018-05-22

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