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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Above the ground
Italo Calvino was one of the most underrated maestros of magical realism, where atoms fall in love and empty suits of armor walk and talk. And one of his most polished, reader-friendly stories was "Baron in the Trees," a fable about a nobleman who lives his whole life in a tree. Yes, it sounds weird -- but the result is sweet, uplifting and full of childlike wonder...
Published on 23 Feb 2007 by E. A Solinas

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A charming fairy tale
When I first started reading this book I was drawn into the story because Calvino is a wonderful story teller. This story is beautifully written, but it is too long. I started to lose interest just past midway but continued to read, hoping it would get better. So my critique is that The Baron in the Trees is charming and readable, but lacks the depth that I want in...
Published on 9 Jan 1999


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Above the ground, 23 Feb 2007
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Baron in the Trees (Harbrace Paperbound Library) (Paperback)
Italo Calvino was one of the most underrated maestros of magical realism, where atoms fall in love and empty suits of armor walk and talk. And one of his most polished, reader-friendly stories was "Baron in the Trees," a fable about a nobleman who lives his whole life in a tree. Yes, it sounds weird -- but the result is sweet, uplifting and full of childlike wonder.

A young nobleman, Cosimo, was enraged when his eccentric sister made dinner out of his pet snails. So when his father ordered him to eat, he ran up a tree and swore to stay there forever. And he did, from his adolescence up to old age, becoming famous as the Baron in the Trees. Even at the death of his parents, he remained in the trees nearby, watching and helping -- but not coming down. Even when the Baron dies, he finds a way to ascend even higher...

Without leaving the trees, he manages to hunt animals, educate himself with great philosophers, adopts an abandoned dog, lends bestselling books to a local bandito, battles pirates who are conspiring with his uncle, has an affair with a promiscuous Marchesa, and even lives with a band of tree-dwelling Spanish exiles.

"Baron in the Trees" is a whimsical little story on the surface, until you look deeper at the message of "living in trees." Cosimo removes himself from the ground, and also removes himself from the worries of ordinary people -- social position, power, material goods. He's happy just to have friends, books, and his own private kingdom.

But even if you take it at face value, "Baron in the Trees" is an enchanting little story. Calvino's lush, detailed writing is always full of a child's wonder, and he sounds like he's living his own fantasies as he describes how Cosimo manages to sleep (a sort of fur cocoon), store his possessions and fall in live... while never stepping out of the tree. But Calvino manages to convey the bittersweetness of Cosimo's life: While he loves his odd life, he also knows that it alienates him from the rest of the world and leaves him alone.

Cosimo himself is a relatively distant character, since the whole book is through the eyes of his otherwise-unimportant brother. But he is surrounded by equally quirky characters -- his Jesuit-phobic father, "general" mother, creepy disgraced sister, and an array of book-loving bandits, odd priests, and peasants who get used to the tree-dwelling Baron.

A sweet, quirky fable about a young man who just won't come down to earth, "The Baron in the Trees" is a truly enchanting read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Have you ever desired not to touch the ground any more?, 11 Jan 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Baron in the Trees (Harbrace Paperbound Library) (Paperback)
"The Baron in the Trees" by Italo Calvino tells the astonishing story of Cosme, a boy who decided to climb a tree and never touch the ground again.
The book shows his life from the moment he decided to rebel against his family in such a strange way till the day he "passed away". Talks about someone who didn't want to belong to the same world of the "ground-walkers".
It's a nice fable, and as many nice fables, talk about big truths about human beings, even the ones which do not climb the trees to scape - or fight against - his problems.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Calvino's finest and most accessible work, 14 April 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Baron in the Trees (Harbrace Paperbound Library) (Paperback)
The protagonist in this work is perhaps the best-delineated character in all of Calvino's works. Cosimo is both an ascetic stylite and participant in the Enlightenment, and the strains of his personality are ever stretched by contemplation, solitude, love, adventure, and the grotesque. Among Calvino's many fine works, The Baron in the Trees must be his greatest. More than any other work, it balances the author's penchant for wit, absurdity, and grand imagination with touching, yet never overwrought, sentimentality. The Baron in the Trees confirms Calvino's standing among the best writers in any language in this century.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A truly wonderful experience, 8 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Baron in the Trees (Harbrace Paperbound Library) (Paperback)
This is my first entry in to Italo Calvino's work (next up is "If on a Winter's Night a Traveller") and I am keen to experience more. The story itself throws you back in to childhood and the thrill of tree climbing but, then takes you on a voyage that is about life and therefore takes you in to places, both comfortable and uncomfortable, of your own existence. Without getting too deep about it all, it is simply a good read, there is a tinge of sadness about the impossibility of life and perhaps, the way we over complicate our own lives (like this review!). However, it is not a "sad" book but, a celebration of the simplicity and passion of good storytelling. Enough said, I sound like a pompous git ... read it and enjoy it for all all the possibilities it brings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Can we live outside the world? Maybe not but up it we can!, 22 Jun 2012
By 
J. RIBEIRO - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Baron in the Trees (Harbrace Paperbound Library) (Paperback)
A Calvino's excellent 'divertimento'. Shadowing the Philosophical novel of the Enlightenment period Calvino imagines that a guy (the Count Cosimo) not happy with the family and world environment decides to live in the trees (Cosimo is twelve and it is running the year of 1767) During a period of 53 years since Cosimo's jumping we will follow the development of a personality that will be always in touch with his epoch. Through this period the rebel has correspondence with Diderot, Voltaire a longing for Rosseau theories and even a short visit of Napoleon.During the narrative Calvino, always with a unfleeting sense of humour, entertains us with the adventures of Cosimo: his interactions with the inhabitants of his country,his survival and self improvement strategies and his love affairs. The Enlightenment issues are expressed: it is at the same time hilarious and pertinent the romantic criticism to this period that is present at the lover affair between Cosimo and Viola (his first and unforgettable love). All the novel is punctuated with an empathy for the main characters and their beliefs but added with a salt of irony that the two hundred years of distance implies. Maybe not the best of Calvino but anyway a very amusing and interesting narrative.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fine fantasy, 21 Oct 2008
By 
Angus Jenkinson "angusjenkinson" (Cambridgeshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Baron in the Trees (Harbrace Paperbound Library) (Paperback)
Jonathan Black mentions Italo Calvino as one of those many modern writers who have followed mystical and esoteric philosophy (The Secret History of the World) and this is clearly a novel that can be read at multiple levels. It is a fable about a Baron who as a youth climbs into the trees and never descends for the rest of his life; but it is also about the ideas of the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Our tree-bound Baron, Cosimo, succeeds in being inspired by the Enlightenment, which was transforming society around him (this is the time of Voltaire and the French Revolution), and also by Romanticism, its antithetical spirit. He is practical, grounded in spirit and ingenious, yet at the same time a visionary who floats above the ground. That makes him the type for the Alchemical philosopher-king. But such deeper meanings are lightly worn and it is easy to treat this as nothing more (or less) than a delightfully told fable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 1 July 2007
This review is from: The Baron in the Trees (Harbrace Paperbound Library) (Paperback)
Recently I have read a lot of disappointing books so it was great to read this one. I thought it was brilliant. A little surreal and yet totally believable. Italo is a wonderful author and describes everything so well. I found it hard to put this book down. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to read something a little different to the usual 'modern' day novels churned out on a daily basis.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Sheer Delight, 28 July 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Baron in the Trees (Harbrace Paperbound Library) (Paperback)
About midway through Calvino's refreshing recitation, the narrator tells us that "Cosimo was still at the age when the desire to tell stories makes one want to live more, thinking one has not done enough living to recount." I believe that age is every age. Cosimo climbs into your heart from the very beginning, remaining as sure-footed there as he is up in the trees, and in so doing, reminds the reader that one doesn't have remain bound to the earth in order to find respectability. Though he tells his father, "A gentleman ... is such whether he is on earth or on the treetops--if he behaves with decency," Cosimo chaffs at the world's heavyhandedness, pomp, and circumstance. Tarrying over our heads, Cosimo emerges as very down-to-earth.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Out of Calvino's head into yours, neverending wonder., 7 Jan 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Baron in the Trees (Harbrace Paperbound Library) (Paperback)
If we consider that we only have one life to live, we must thank Mr. Calvino for allowing us to sample another life in between the covers of this dreamy book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 28 Oct 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Baron in the Trees (Harbrace Paperbound Library) (Paperback)
Loved this book. Fascintaing historical perspective of the mid to late 18th century. Cosimo, a wonderful character, takes to the trees to escape his parents in an unusual manner of rebellion. Calvino's extraordinary imagination shows once again in this book that he is one of the finest literary minds. Highly reccomend it.
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The Baron in the Trees (Harbrace Paperbound Library)
The Baron in the Trees (Harbrace Paperbound Library) by Italo Calvino (Paperback - 31 Mar 1977)
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