The letters of Italo Calvino have recently been published in a translation by Martin McLaughlin, and were reviewed in The Guardian a couple of weeks ago:
The bulk of the correspondence in this collection concerns Calvino's tireless work on behalf of Einaudi and his struggle to succeed as a writer in post-fascist Italy. Along the way are letters sent to fellow Italian writers (Alberto Moravia, Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante) in support of abortion and workers rights, as well as bulletins dispatched from 50s New York and Communist Cuba (where Calvino met Che Guevara). The correspondence is distinguished by its sly philosophic humour and mandarin diversity of interests, ranging from the chivalric romances of Charlemagne to French structuralist theory.
Above all, the letters illuminate the politics of book publishing in Italy after the overthrow of Mussolini. Calvino's first novel, The Path to the Nest of Spiders (1947), was born directly out of his experience as a partisan during Italy's anti-fascist resistance. It was influenced by Ernest Hemingway and Italy's "news-reel" school of realism, which aimed for an unpolished immediacy of the street. Hemingway served as an antidote to fascist rhetoric and obfuscation. Yet Calvino's writing was already marked by a fabulous gothic undertow, with allusions to medieval artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Albrecht Atldorfer. In his letters, he styles himself both "the fabulist Calvino" and "the realist Calvino": which was the real one?
The novelist and poet Cesare Pavese, Einaudi's managing editor, was among the first to detect the virtuoso fable-maker in Calvino. The 24-year-old was a "squirrel with a quill", Pavese said, whose fiction read like a "folk tale from the forests".