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To the extent that Italo Calvino's novels point us toward a God beyond the God who died with the advent of modern nihilism, they are an important resource for constructing just that kind of notion of the divine that is required by the contemporary cultural situation: a notion that is an alternative to both theism and atheism. While theism cannot withstand the corrosive forces integral to the modern world view, atheism makes the fatal mistake of supposing that there is no longer any dimension of ultimacy available to contemporary persons. The God we have been led to by Calvino's last novels escapes the dilemma that the God of theism cannot escape, but not at the price of jettisoning the ultimacy associated with the divine. Instead, we have discovered a God who transcends God as traditionally conceived.


Originally published:

Grigg, Richard. “Language, the Other, and God: On Italo Calvino's Last Novels”. Religion & Literature 19.3 (Autumn 1987): 49-65.