Calvino’s first example of quickness is the story of Charlemagne as told by Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly. The entire story is told in ten sentences.
Every detail given in the story is necessary to advance the plot of the story.
By stressing the importance of quickness, Calvino is stressing the importance of telling a story well. A story does not need to be long to be good. It just needs to be told well, and that often means quickly.
Calvino’s emblem of quickness is a horse because it gets someone to a destination quickly.
Just like a horse, a story should get to the end quickly. That way the listener’s attention is more likely to be kept. Calvino tells the story of a woman who after accepting a horse ride from a man, decides to walk the rest of the way because the story he is telling his so boring. Just as this little boy, to the left, is bored by his slow horse ride.
This semester I am taking a class on the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. Most of their stories are a page and a half long. The Brothers Grimm are experts on quickness. They never try to build anticipation, they just tell you what happens. Every detail is necessary to either advance the moral or the plot of the story. They are a lot different than the Disney adaptations we grew up watching. There are no erroneous songs. Instead, a lot of repetition fills the pages of the stories. Sometimes it is almost funny how quickly the Brothers Grimm tie up the stories. The characters will be in the midst of conflict and then all of the sudden the evil step-mother dies and they live happily ever after. But, there is no time for you to get distracted or bored. The Brothers Grimm take you on many a speedy, entertaining horse rides.