Abstract

In this article, I explore the relationship between secrets and ars combinatoria, or the art of combining elements.1 In particular, I analyze this relationship in Italo Calvino's works, as Calvino can be thought of as the major representative of combinatorial literature in Italy. Although there are several published articles discussing the literary theory on secrecy, and several more analyzing combinatorial literature in Calvino, none discusses the importance of secrets in Calvino or links combinatorial literature with secrecy. I argue that ars combinatoria and, more specifically, combinatorial literature, is always closely linked with secrecy. I demonstrate that secrecy is a key aspect of combinatorial literature and that such combinatory elements become an essential part of Calvino's storytelling. I first define each of these terms (secrecy and combinatorics) in a broader context and then in the context of their literary usage.

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