Among Chuang-tzu's many skills, he was an expert
The king asked him to draw a crab. Chuang-tzu replied that he
needed five years, a country house, and twelve servants.
Five years later the drawing was still not begun.
"I need another five years," said Chuang-tzu.
The king granted them.
At the end of these ten years, Chuang-tzu took up his brush and,
in an instant, with a single stroke,
he drew a crab, the most perfect crab ever seen.
from Six Memos for the Next Millennium
Important literary figure and highly respected Italian
writer, born in Cuba in 1923, the son of two Italian botanists.
Was made a compulsory member of Mussolini's Young Fascists: later
joined and fought for the Italian Resistance.
He writes almost scientifically precise, beautifully detailed
prose. He explores and extends simple legends, such as the series
of Italian folktales he transcribed and his retelling of the tale
of Marco Polo (Invisible Cities): he also experiments a lot
with literary form, especially meta-fiction, as in the amazing
If on a winter's night, a traveller, and was influenced by the
Oulipo school of experimental writing. The content of his
writing covers almost every subject you could wish to name: it's
thought-provoking and very beautiful, and well worth reading.
A list of works translated into English:
He died in 1985 at his home in Italy after a cerebral
haemorrhage. Gore Vidal wrote an eulogy on his death, which can
be found at http://www.emory.edu/EDUCATION/mfp/eulogy.html.