##ence And Human Nature In Italo Calvino's Il Cavaliere Inesistente

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Essay Written as the final instalment to an allegorical trilogy, Il cavaliere inesistente by Italo Calvino explores the conepts of existence and human nature in the time of Charlemagne, be it through the use of characterisation or the novel’s fantastical nature. In this regard, Calvino takes influence from Ariosto’s Orlando furioso. Il cavaliere inesistente, much like the Orlando furioso, blends genres to create a fantasy world in which its characters must go on chivalric quests of self-discovery which, as described by Sara Adler, ‘are complicated by the frequent mistaken identities, enchanted spells, and frustrations of unrequited love which are common in the Orlando furioso.’ Human existence is a key component to both texts, and is primarily explored through the protagonists. In Il cavaliere inesistente, Calvino presents Agilulfo, who is so much the perfect knight it becomes almost parodic ; he knows every rule and all information on the army, highlighting his dedication to his knighthood. However, when asked to remove his helmet by Charlemagne, there is no physical being to be found: Agilulfo parve ancora esitare un momento, poi con mano ferma ma lenta sollevò la celata. L’elmo era vuoto. Nell’armatura bianca dall’iridiscente cimiero non c’era dentro nessuno. Through this revelation Calvino immediately questions human existence, and how one can truly exist if they have no physical form. Agilulfo explains that he exists through his sheer ‘forza di volontà’. One could

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