The Path to the Spiders' Nests Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Path to the Spiders' Nests

This is Italo Calvino's first novel written years before his internationally acclaimed novels. It tells the story of a boy called Pin, during wartime in Italy. Pin can't relate to children his own age and so hangs out with the adults in the local bar singing them songs and generally clowning about. However he doesn't understand the adult world, these are people who are enemies and friends at the same time, whom he can laugh at until he has vented his hatred for them. When to gain favour with the adults he steals a pistol belonging to a German who is visiting with his prostitute sister he starts an adventure as a Partisan. Imprisoned he escapes with a new friend the adventurous Partisan Red Wolf and joins a ragged band of individuals who are a Partisan detachment. Here he is in his element as the boy entertaining and teasing the adults as they await their next mission against the Fascists. Pin never quite understands the adults world and the adults fail to believe that he has a pistol hidden in a secret place amongst the spiders' nests. An entertaining and enchanting tale of this boy immersed in his own remote childhood world.
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The review of this Book prepared by John Marcel

Calvino's first novel, published in 1947 when he was 23, depicts the chaotic situation in northern Italy at the close of the Second World War, with fascists and royalists and various other partisans and guerillas battling for control of the towns and hills. Everything is seen through the eyes of a young boy named Pin, a cobbler's assistant whose older sister is a prostitute. Pin wants to be a big man, a fighter, but has a hard time understanding who's who and what's going on amid multiple betrayals and power struggles.
The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Chapter Analysis of The Path to the Spiders' Nests

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Plot & Themes

Time/era of story    -   1930's-1950's Kids growing up/acting up?    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book War/Revolt/Disaster on civilians    -   Yes Wild kid(s)?    -   committing crimes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   unemployed Age:    -   a kid Ethnicity/Nationality    -   Italian


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   Italy Forest?    -   Yes Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   hostile, like Gomer Pyle on steroids Misc setting    -   prison

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog    -   little dialog

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Italo Calvino Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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