Italo Calvino (1923-1985) was born in Cuba and grew up in San Remo, Italy. He fought for the Italian Resistance in WW2 from 1943-1945.
In "Right and Wrong Political Uses of Literature," Calvino begins by describing the difficulties for writers in being heard, since even the most sensational and explosive writing can fail to impact on readers, "All is as nothing, like the sound of the wind." Words pose no danger to writer or reader, and those of the poet or writer tend to be swallowed up - unless and until the work is persecuted. When this happens, the true power of literature is disclosed, a challenge to authority.
The persecution of literature has a knock-on effect. Whenever writers are persecuted, there must already be restraints on discussion and political thought. Fiction and poetry can fulfil the important role of giving a voice to those deprived on one.
Two Wrong Ways of Thinking About the Use of Politics in Literature
Calvino posits that there are two wrong ways of thinking of a possible political use for literature.
However, the above does not imply that all political uses of literature are misguided. In Calvino's view, the reverse is true.
We need to remember that, although once literature was regarded as a mirror held up to the world, that books are composed of words, signs and constructions.
Italo Calvino was once a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature.