Tag Archives: power

Calvino’s Quickness

25 Feb

The second quality Calvino introduces is Quickness. Through an initial example of the story of Charlamagne, Calvino demonstrates that Quickness can be provided by a narrative link in order to move the tale along. In the story, the ring is the narrative link that provides the movement and determines the relationships among the characters surrounding it.

According to Calvino, Quickness is not a value in itself. Rather it is a singular characteristic that is used to convey a sense of narrative time that is akin to delayed, cyclic or motionless time. As such, the other examples Calvino draws on to demonstrate Quickness, or lack thereof, are a variety of time-keeping methods to prove a point that Quickness can be pertinent to good storytelling.

The emblem Calvino chooses to exemplify the quality of Quickness is the horse. He sees it as an emblem of speed- literally, figuratively and of the mind as well. He emphasizes that the horse runs through the course of literature’s history as representing power, strength and, of course, speed and makes the claim that the horse even heralds the problematics of our technological viewpoints.

I personally feel as though Quickness is an extremely important aspect of a piece of literature. Where as I, as a detail-oriented person, appreciate a great deal of details and information in a piece of work, I also appreciate the movement of a storyline so that engagement does not run stale because of an over abundance of unnecessary information. For me, this type of distraction is a turn-off when it comes to a story, and when a lack of quickness is the case I am discouraged from reading. Therefore I tend to lean toward a preference of Quickness rather than a motionless storyline.

An example of literature I feel demonstrates Quickness is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. While many children’s books can be characterized by the quality of Quickness, I feel as though this one especially captures it because of the concise and yet meaningful message. Each page has a very words, one or two sentences at most, but it does not lack for story. The argument can also be made that the story is successful with so few words because of the pictures, but I feel as though the pictures are merely a supplement and not a main contributing factor for the story. The relationship between the boy and the tree is quick in terms of words and lines, but the meaning is full and the message is timeless.