The Baron in the Trees

The Baron in the Trees

by

Italo Calvino

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The Baron in the Trees: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Back home in Ombrosa, rumors circulate that Cosimo has many lovers all over the valley. Men become territorial, and women whisper and tell Biagio about their meetings with Cosimo. Cosimo stops wearing furs and dresses in a tailcoat—and it’s possible to tell by his dress whether he’s hunting or meeting a lover. Biagio says that an older noblewoman often meets Cosimo out near the woods. She sends her carriage driver to gather mushrooms while she sees Cosimo. Biagio doesn’t believe most of these stories. For one, if Cosimo had so many lovers, than how does one explain the many nights that Cosimo roamed the trees, yowling for a woman? Old men kindly send Cosimo on his way, while bold girls go to their windows and climb into the trees with him.
As with Cosimo’s wild tales about being on the buck’s antlers, these stories about women are impossible to verify and seem far-fetched. However, when Biagio admits outright that he can’t verify them and he’s right with the reader in thinking they’re not true, it helps the reader identify with him and humanizes him to his audience. Regardless, Cosimo’s courtships show him that he can bridge the gap between living in nature and having a normal life as clearly, women are willing to climb trees to have sex with him.
Themes
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Cosimo dedicates himself to studying and writing a Plan for the Establishment of an Ideal State Based in the Trees. It begins as a treatise on law and governments, but it soon turns into a fantastic and complicated story of adventures, including a chapter on marriage law. Biagio suggests that the book’s epilogue should’ve said that the author, after establishing the perfect state in the trees and convincing everyone to live there, now lives on the earth. However, Cosimo never finishes the book. He does send a summary of it to Diderot, who sends Cosimo a thank-you note in return.
Writing this book situates Cosimo as one of the many individuals in the Age of Enlightenment who produced works like this. This shows again that living in the trees doesn’t hinder his education or, for that matter, his ability to communicate with the other great minds of the era. Denis Diderot is one of the most famous Enlightenment philosophers, which makes the fact that Cosimo is in contact with him even more compelling for readers familiar with Diderot.
Themes
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon