The Baron in the Trees

The Baron in the Trees

by

Italo Calvino

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Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò Character Analysis

The protagonist of the novel. He is the son of the noble Generalessa and Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondò and lives in the fictional Italian village of Ombrosa. When the reader meets Cosimo, he’s a stubborn and independent 12-year-old who enjoys tormenting his tutor, the Abbé Fauchelafleur, and causing general mischief with his little brother, Biagio. However, after a battle of wills in which Cosimo refuses to eat the snails that his sister, Battista, has made for lunch, Cosimo climbs into one of the family’s oak trees and declares that he’s never coming down. In his first year of living in the trees, Cosimo dedicates himself to discovering his new home and meeting his neighbors. These include the neighbor girl, Viola—with whom Cosimo falls immediately in love—the fruit thieves, and the peasant farmers. He soon learns to hunt, and his love of inventing means that Cosimo rigs up all sorts of things to help him live comfortably without ever having to set foot on the ground. Though Cosimo lives in the trees, he never truly leaves humanity, and instead sticks close to Ombrosa and his family. As an older teen, Cosimo travels to Olivabassa to live with exiled Spanish nobles who also live in the trees, where he falls in love for the first time with a young woman named Ursula. Here, he begins to exercise his love of Enlightenment philosophers and tries to put their ideas into practice by helping the nobles craft letters to their king. Throughout his life, Cosimo organizes a number of societies and groups with the goal of bringing people together around a common purpose. He protects the trees, protects sheep from wolves, and is possibly one of the founders of the local Masonic lodge. Cosimo’s goal, according to Biagio, is to create a perfect society using the teachings of some of his favorite Enlightenment philosophers, whom he studies throughout his life. His dedication to his studies, however, mean that he’s unprepared for the romance he develops with Viola when she returns after more than a decade. Though their love is passionate, it’s also emotionally taxing for both of them and ultimately dissolves. Cosimo experiences periods of madness in his old age, but remains a respected figure in Ombrosa. He dies after dropping himself into the ocean from a hot air balloon.

Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò Quotes in The Baron in the Trees

The The Baron in the Trees quotes below are all either spoken by Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò or refer to Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Mariner edition of The Baron in the Trees published in 2017.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Now, instead, as we dined with the family, childhood’s sad chapter of daily grievances took shape. Our father and our mother were always right in front of us; we had to use knives and forks for the chicken, and sit up straight, and keep elbows off the table—endless!—and then there was our odious sister Battista. A succession of scoldings, spiteful acts, punishments, obstinacies began, until the day Cosimo refused the snails and decided to separate his lot from ours.

Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

But he restrained himself, because he didn’t like repeating the things that his father always said, now that he had run away from the table in an argument with him. He didn’t like it and it didn’t seem right to him, also because those claims about the dukedom had always seemed like obsessions to him...

During Cosimo’s first meeting with Viola, the neighbor girl, Cosimo wants to impress her—but he also doesn’t want to look silly and like he’s obsessed with titles and glory, like Baron Arminio is. This challenge thus becomes a major turning point for Cosimo, as he must figure out who he wants to be when he’s on his own and not simply learning to value what Baron Arminio and the rest of Ombrosa’s nobility value. Biagio’s aside that Cosimo thinks the dukedom sounds like an obsession suggests that Cosimo is a wildly individualistic person, at least when it comes to separating his identity from his family. Were his family to acquire the dukedom, it would eventually fall to Cosimo to be the next duke—something that, even as a child, Cosimo knows he’s not interested in doing. Even this early on in the novel, then, it’s clear that Cosimo is willing to risk angering his family and alienating himself from them if it means he is able to form his own identity and live authentically.

Page Number: 22-23
Chapter 3 Quotes

From the window I strained my ears to that irregular breath and tried to imagine how it would sound, without the familiar womb of the house, to someone who was just a few yards away but completely entrusted to it, with only the night around him, the only friendly object to which he could cling the trunk of a tree with its rough bark traveled by tiny endless tunnels in which the larvae slept.

Related Characters: Biagio Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò
Related Symbols: Ombrosa’s Native Trees
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

She was there waving one of her flags and looking through the telescope when suddenly her whole face brightened and she laughed. We understood that Cosimo had answered her. [...] Certainly from then on our mother changed; her earlier apprehension disappeared, and [...] she finally accepted Cosimo’s strangeness before the rest of us, as if she was satisfied now by the greetings that from then on he sent her every so often, unpredictably—by that exchange of silent messages.

Page Number: 52-53
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

Cosimo’s first days in the trees had no goals or plans but were dominated only by the desire to know and possess that kingdom of his. He would have liked to explore it immediately to its furthest boundaries, study all the possibilities it offered, discover it tree by tree and branch by branch.

Related Characters: Biagio Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò
Related Symbols: Ombrosa’s Native Trees
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

That need to enter an element difficult to possess which had driven my brother to make his the ways of the trees was now working in him again, unsatisfied, and communicated to him the desire for a more detailed penetration, a relationship that would bind him to every leaf and scale and feather and flutter. It was the love that man the hunter has for what is alive but doesn’t know how to express except by aiming the gun; Cosimo couldn’t yet recognize it and tried to let it out by intensifying his exploration.

Related Characters: Biagio Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò
Related Symbols: Ombrosa’s Native Trees
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

“Rebellion is not measured in yards,” he said. “Even when it seems just a few handbreadths, a journey may have no return.”

Related Symbols: Ombrosa’s Native Trees
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

But I couldn’t always escape to join him in he woods. Lessons with the abbé, studying, serving Mass, meals with our parents kept me back: the hundreds of duties of family life to which I submitted, because in essence the sentence that I heard constantly repeated—“One rebel in a family is enough”—wasn’t unreasonable, and left its imprint on my entire life.

Related Symbols: Ombrosa’s Native Trees
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Understanding the character of Enea Silvio Carrega helped Cosimo in this: he understood many things about being alone that were useful to him later in life. I would say that he always carried with him the troubled image of the cavalier avvocato, as a warning of what a man who separates his fate from that of others can become, and he was successful in that he never came to resemble him.

Page Number: 116-117
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

Cosimo had always liked to watch people working, but so far his life in the trees, his movements and his hunting, had always answered to isolated and unmotivated whims, as if he were a little bird. Now instead the need to do something useful for his neighbor possessed him. And this, too, if you looked closely, was something he had learned from the company of the bandit: the pleasure of making himself useful, of performing a task indispensable to others.

Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

Thus by his art he helped to make nature in Ombrosa, which he had always found so benign, increasingly favorable to him, friend at once of his neighbor, of nature, and of himself. And in old age especially he enjoyed the advantages of this wise way of working, when the shape of the trees increasingly made up for his loss of strength.

Related Characters: Biagio Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò
Related Symbols: Ombrosa’s Native Trees
Page Number: 142-43
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

He understood this: that associations make man stronger and bring out the individual’s best talents, and offer the joy, rarely felt if we remain on our own, of seeing how many honest and good and capable people there are, for whom it’s worthwhile to wish for good things (whereas if we live on our own, the contrary more often happens, of seeing people’s other face, the one that causes us to keep our hand on the hilt guard of our sword).

Related Characters: Biagio Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

Maybe it was a version dictated by the thought of his father, whose grief would be so great at the news of his half-brother’s death and at the sight of those pitiful remains that Cosimo didn’t have the heart to burden him with the revelation of the cavaliere’s treason. In fact, later, hearing of the depression into which the baron had fallen, he tried to construct for our natural uncle a fictitious glory, inventing a secret and shrewd struggle to defeat the pirates, to which he had supposedly been devoting himself for some time and which, discovered, had led him to his death.

Page Number: 167
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

And there, with naive youthful fervor, he explained the ideas of the philosophers and the wrongs of sovereigns and how states could be governed according to reason and justice.

Related Symbols: Ombrosa’s Native Trees
Page Number: 1887
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

He saw her: she was circling the pool, the little gazebo, the amphoras. She looked at the trees that had grown enormous, with hanging aerial roots, the magnolias that had become a forest. But she didn’t see him, he who sought to call her with the cooing of the hoopoe, the trill of the pipit, with sounds that were lost in the dense warbling of the birds in the garden.

Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

“Why do you make me suffer?”

“Because I love you.”

Now it was he who got angry. “No, you don’t love me! One who loves wants happiness, not suffering.”

“One who loves wants only love, even at the cost of suffering.”

“So you make me suffer on purpose.”

“Yes, to see if you love me.”

The baron’s philosophy refused to go further. “Suffering is a negative state of the soul.”

Related Characters: Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Viola d’Ondariva/Sinforosa (speaker)
Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

“You reason too much. Why in the world should love be reasoned?”

“To love you more. Everything increases its power if you do it by reasoning.”

“You live in the trees and you have the mentality of a lawyer with gout.”

“The boldest enterprises should be experienced with the simplest heart.”

He continued to spout opinions until she ran away; then he, following her, despairing, tearing his hair.

Related Characters: Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Viola d’Ondariva/Sinforosa (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ombrosa’s Native Trees
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

This fact that the heir of the baronial title of Rondò had begun to live on public charity seemed to me unbecoming, and above all I thought of our dear departed father, if he had known.

Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25 Quotes

How the passion for a life of association that Cosimo always displayed was reconciled with his perpetual flight from civil society I’ve never understood, and it remains one of the larger peculiarities of his character. One might say that the more determined he was to stay hidden up in his branches, the greater the need he felt to create new relations with the human race.

Related Characters: Biagio Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò
Page Number: 267-68
Explanation and Analysis:

It was an idea of universal society that he had in mind. And every time he worked to bring people together, whether for specific goals like the fire watch or the defense against the wolves, or whether in trade confraternities [...] there was always an atmosphere of conspiracy, of a sect, of heresy, and in that atmosphere the discourse passed easily from the particular to the general, and just as easily from the simple rules of a manual trade to the plan of establishing a world republic of equals, of the free and the just.

Related Characters: Biagio Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò
Page Number: 2668
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 27 Quotes

Instead my intervention was providential: the itching of the fleas rekindled acutely in the hussars the human and civilized need to scratch, to rub, to get rid of the fleas; they threw away the mossy garments, the knapsacks and bundles covered with mushrooms and spiderwebs; they washed, they shaved, they combed their hair; in short they regained consciousness of their individual humanity, and the sense of civilization, of deliverance from brute nature, won them back.

Page Number: 287
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 28 Quotes

And to say that Cosimo in that time had written and distributed a Plan of a Constitution for a Republican City with Declaration of the Rights of Men, Women, Children, Domestic and Wild Animals, Including Birds, Fish, and Insects, and of Plants Both Forest Trees and Vegetables and Grasses. It was a beautiful work, which could serve as a guide for all who govern; instead no one took it under consideration, and it remained a dead letter.

Related Characters: Biagio Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò
Related Symbols: Ombrosa’s Native Trees
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

Now I don’t know what this nineteenth century, which began so badly and continues worse, has in store. The shadow of the Restoration weighs on Europe: all the innovators—whether Jacobins or Bonapartists—defeated; absolutism and Jesuits hold the field again; the ideals of youth, the Enlightenment, the hopes of our eighteenth century all ashes.

Related Characters: Biagio Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò
Page Number: 301
Explanation and Analysis:

Then, the vegetation has changed: no more the holm oaks, the elms, the oaks; now Africa, Australia, the Americas, the Indies extend branches and roots here. The ancient trees have retreated upward: on top of the hills the olives, and in the mountain woods pines and chestnuts; down on the coast it’s an Australian red with eucalyptus, elephantine with ficus, enormous and solitary garden plants, and all the rest is palms, with their disheveled tufts, inhospitable desert trees.

Related Characters: Biagio Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò
Page Number: 306
Explanation and Analysis:
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Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò Character Timeline in The Baron in the Trees

The timeline below shows where the character Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò appears in The Baron in the Trees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
On June 15, 1767, Biagio’s brother, Cosimo, eats with the family for the last time. The family—Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondò; his... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...where the family fights, as it’s where everyone’s differences arise—and it’s the only place where Cosimo and Biagio deal with the adults. (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
As children, Cosimo and Biagio climb trees, explore the countryside, and slide down the banisters. Cosimo begins to... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Battista’s insistence on cooking snails drives Cosimo and Biagio to rebellion. After Battista presents a dish in which she makes decapitated snail... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
...and snails for the main course. Biagio, tired of fighting, gives in quickly. This disappoints Cosimo, so Cosimo grabs his hat and sword and climbs up into the holm oak in... (full context)
Chapter 2
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Cosimo already enjoys what he can see from the oak. The Generalessa and Baron Arminio come... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Cosimo climbs over the wall into a magnolia tree in the D’Ondarivas’ garden. Biagio explains that... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Cosimo blushes—he loves his gaiters, and he feels inadequate to learn that Viola is friends with... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Viola and Cosimo argue over whether Cosimo is on her land. Cosimo says that the trees are his... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Viola’s aunt recognizes Cosimo and calls Viola to her. Being recognized and Viola’s obedience makes Cosimo feel ashamed. Viola’s... (full context)
Chapter 3
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
For Biagio, the afternoon seems to drag on forever. He meets Cosimo in the mulberry with cake and dried figs, though Cosimo still acts betrayed. Biagio explains... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Baron Arminio calls for the boys and Biagio goes. He tells Cosimo that he’s going to report back on what their father says, but he’s also worried... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
After dinner, the family goes to bed. The Generalessa and Baron Arminio decide to ignore Cosimo in the hope that the cold and discomfort will bring him down. Biagio looks outside... (full context)
Chapter 4
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
...and olives gradually gave way to oaks and then a pine forest on the mountain. Cosimo soon learns all the routes through the trees. (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Cosimo wakes up in the tree that first morning and looks around. He senses a wave... (full context)
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Later, the fruit thieves are shocked to discover Cosimo sitting in the top of the tallest cherry tree, eating cherries. They call him an... (full context)
Chapter 5
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Gradually, Cosimo learns that the Sinforosa is a noble girl who rides a white pony and, for... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Suddenly, Cosimo leaps up and moves through the trees. He passes through the di Rondò garden several... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
From behind the Generalessa, Battista offers a dish in Cosimo’s direction, but Baron Arminio slaps her and sends her inside. Biagio yearns to follow Cosimo... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Cosimo’s branch breaks, but he doesn’t hit the ground—his coattails catch on a branch. He stares... (full context)
Chapter 6
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Cosimo spends his first days in the trees discovering everything he can about the trees, but... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...think that the cavalier avvocato is looking for a parrot, but they let him in. Cosimo and Viola ignore the group and continue their games, and Cosimo moves from tree to... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
...pool. The Marquis surprisingly seems interested and the two men stroll through the garden, chatting. Cosimo takes the opportunity to throw a berry at Viola’s window. She opens it and hisses... (full context)
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Suddenly, Cosimo sees yellow eyes ahead. He pushes a branch aside to reveal a wild cat, sighs... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Cosimo returns to the di Rondò garden, carrying the cat by its tail. Biagio alerts the... (full context)
Chapter 7
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Battista makes the final attempt to capture Cosimo by smearing his favorite tree in sticky birdlime one night. In the morning she finds... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...The only person Baron Arminio trusts is the cavalier avvocato. Biagio notes that he and Cosimo must’ve been jealous that their father seemed to love his brother more than his sons,... (full context)
Chapter 8
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
One day, while Cosimo is in the middle of a game with poor children, Baron Arminio rides up. It’s... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Biagio worries about Cosimo in the rain. The Generalessa initially insists that Cosimo will be fine, but when Biagio... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
The next day, Baron Arminio sends the Abbé Fauchelafleur to find Cosimo and give him a Latin lesson. An hour later, Cosimo perches in an elm tree... (full context)
Chapter 9
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
After this first lesson, things return to normal—the only difference is that Cosimo stays in the trees. He’s solitary but seems to care only for the people. He... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Baron Arminio does everything he can to keep Cosimo’s rebellion a secret, even though this is a futile task. The Count d’Estomac decides to... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Count d’Estomac is amused and Baron Arminio’s deflections don’t work. Cosimo bows to the count, who laughs and declares that Cosimo is clever to live in... (full context)
Chapter 10
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Olive trees are comfortable for Cosimo, while fig trees are unpredictable and sticky. Walnut trees seem like palaces and make even... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
In the winter, Cosimo makes himself a fur jacket and goatskin trousers. Biagio notes that winters at this time... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
The one thing missing in Cosimo’s life is a dog. Biagio performs the task of a hunting dog when he can,... (full context)
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Cosimo lets the fox go, sure he shouldn’t shoot an animal raised by another hunter’s dog.... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Cosimo follows Ottimo Massimo to figure out where he came from, and the dog leads him... (full context)
Chapter 11
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
For his entire adolescence, Cosimo does little but hunt and fish. He seems to become a lot like an animal... (full context)
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Cosimo has the opportunity to get to know the cavalier avvocato, and he discovers that his... (full context)
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
One day in spring, Cosimo notes that the air is roaring with the sound of bees. He shouts for the... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The cavalier avvocato often joins Cosimo in the trees to discuss the plans. They never move on to actually building anything,... (full context)
Chapter 12
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Sometimes, Cosimo wakes in the night hearing cries that the bandit Gian dei Brughi robbed someone. Cosimo... (full context)
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
One afternoon, as Cosimo reads a novel in a walnut tree, a shabby-looking man races ahead of two constables... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Biagio passes books to Cosimo from the family library at first, but because Gian dei Brughi spends all day hidden... (full context)
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
...all about his trial—he knows he’ll be hanged—but he does care about finishing his novel. Cosimo gets another copy of it and reads to the bandit from a pine tree near... (full context)
Chapter 13
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Cosimo’s friendship with Gian dei Brughi instills in him a lifelong passion for reading and learning.... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...vacillates between passive acceptance and a latent passion for spiritual rigor. He absorbs all of Cosimo’s new ideas, likes them at first, and then passionately denounces everything. The Abbé begins purchasing... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
The Abbé’s arrest doesn’t stop Cosimo’s education. He begins writing to the greatest scientists and philosophers of the age, and Biagio... (full context)
Chapter 14
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Though Cosimo makes friends, he also makes enemies. The iterant people, for one, fall on hard times... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Rather than decide to stay away from the woods and his enemies, Cosimo worries about how to protect the trees from fire. A drought starts a fire along... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...arsonists and banish them from the area. Everyone has only good things to say about Cosimo in regards to the fire brigade. The Generalessa wonders if the fire brigade could morph... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Baron Arminio bites back an insult, sighs, and announces that since Cosimo is 18, it’s time for him to be considered an adult. Cosimo promises to be... (full context)
Chapter 15
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Around this time, Cosimo begins to notice the cavalier avvocato behaving strangely. He begins spending time at the port,... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
While watching for fires one night, Cosimo sees the cavalier avvocato walking rapidly down to the valley. This is unusual; the cavalier... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Cosimo is torn. On one hand, he wants to alert the local port officials; on the... (full context)
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Cosimo considers alerting the local merchants, but instead alerts the impoverished charcoal burners. The charcoal burners... (full context)
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Cosimo feels triumphant until he sees the cavalier avvocato racing for the boat. He leaps into... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The cavalier avvocato begins to hail a nearby pirate ship. Cosimo hides and watches two pirates lift his uncle into their boat. He hears an argument,... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Biagio tells the reader that at first, Cosimo told a very different story. He first insists that pirates kidnapped and killed the cavalier... (full context)
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...life. Nothing in his life has gone according to plan: he’s still not a duke, Cosimo is still in the trees, and the cavalier avvocato is dead. Baron Arminio begins to... (full context)
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Even though Cosimo is now the Baron di Rondò, his life changes little. He appears more often in... (full context)
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Underlying Cosimo’s storytelling is the fact that he hasn’t been in love and feels his life has... (full context)
Chapter 17
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As Cosimo gets closer to Olivabassa, people greet him in Spanish even though it’s obviously not their... (full context)
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Cosimo peppers Father Sulpicio, a Jesuit, with questions about how the Spaniards live in the trees.... (full context)
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Father Sulpicio introduces Cosimo to an old man named El Conde. El Conde continually looks at a distant hill,... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Cosimo and Ursula spend their days in the blooming fruit trees. Cosimo makes himself useful by... (full context)
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At the meetings, Cosimo naïvely talks about philosophers’ proposals that sovereigns are wrong, and that reason and justice can... (full context)
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One night, Cosimo wakes to the sound of someone crying. He discovers Father Sulpicio tying El Conde to... (full context)
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One day, Don Frederico summons Cosimo. With Father Sulpicio next to him, he asks Cosimo’s age—21—and much to everyone’s surprise and... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Back home in Ombrosa, rumors circulate that Cosimo has many lovers all over the valley. Men become territorial, and women whisper and tell... (full context)
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Cosimo dedicates himself to studying and writing a Plan for the Establishment of an Ideal State... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...that he doesn’t have much to say about this period. He turns 21, and since Cosimo doesn’t need much, Cosimo agrees to let Biagio use the property in exchange for paying... (full context)
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Biagio returns to Ombrosa when he receives word that the Generalessa is ill. He finds Cosimo sitting outside the Generalessa’s window and is struck that the Generalessa speaks to Cosimo as... (full context)
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Eventually, Cosimo becomes aware of the passing time. Ottimo Massimo is old and no longer wants to... (full context)
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A game warden passes below. Cosimo asks the man if he’s seen Ottimo Massimo. The man hasn’t, but asks if Cosimo... (full context)
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Cosimo waits for Ottimo Massimo until the following evening. The dog appears, wags at Cosimo as... (full context)
Chapter 21
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One day, Cosimo sees a fair-haired woman on a white horse gallop out of the trees on the... (full context)
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Viola gallops through a chestnut wood and Cosimo leaps through the trees after her. She reappears closer and again, Cosimo can only make... (full context)
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Viola tells her servants where to hang the swing and finally sees Cosimo. She’s surprised, but she recovers immediately. Viola tells him to meet her at the end... (full context)
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Cosimo is stunned and asks who Viola was flirting with. Viola says she’ll never let Cosimo... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Cosimo leads Viola to the tree where he carved their names alongside Ottimo Massimo’s. Viola is... (full context)
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Nevertheless, Viola is still spoiled, and Cosimo doesn’t spark her imagination. This leads to short-lived fights. They talk about their lives, but... (full context)
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Cosimo doesn’t understand that the same thing motivates their love and their fights, and they often... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Biagio says that for the most part, the people of Ombrosa gossip about Cosimo but treat him respectfully. They reproach Viola’s behavior but generally talk as though their behavior... (full context)
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Their romance always resumes when she returns, but they also argue jealously as Cosimo suspects she sees other men while she’s gone. Once, Biagio journeys to Paris on business... (full context)
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Viola returns, pleased at how jealous Cosimo is, and accuses him of holding a narrow idea of love since he tries to... (full context)
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One morning, Cosimo watches Viola drop a note to the Neapolitan, asking for a meeting. He then watches... (full context)
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...is the first to say that they’ll share her. The men turn to their horses. Cosimo is thrilled to exact revenge, but decides to warn the officers since they were so... (full context)
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...to more and more concessions. Every time they make another promise, Viola rushes to tell Cosimo. Finally, both officers desert and spend their days playing dice while Viola stalks around in... (full context)
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...Sir Osbert and Don Salvatore stay together and go on adventures, but they eventually disappear. Cosimo wanders through the wood, weeping in grief. Then, he destroys trees. He doesn’t resent Viola,... (full context)
Chapter 24
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People have always believed that Cosimo is mad, but Biagio says that it’s undeniable now. Cosimo begins to wear feathers on... (full context)
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Cosimo also begins to write and print pamphlets, which eventually turns into in The Biped Monitor.... (full context)
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Fortunately for Cosimo, wolves descend on the valley that winter and terrify everyone. People lament in front of... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...doesn’t become a Freemason until after the first Napoleonic campaign, so he’s not sure when Cosimo becomes involved with the Masons. One day, two Spaniards arrive, seek out a local Freemason,... (full context)
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Father Sulpicio announces himself as a Jesuit, Cosimo announces himself as a Freemason, and the two Spaniards introduce themselves as Don Calisto and... (full context)
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Because of the secrecy surrounding Freemasonry, Biagio doesn’t have the opportunity to learn much about Cosimo’s dealings with the local lodge. Some talk about Cosimo as though he strayed later in... (full context)
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Biagio admits he never understood why Cosimo loved associations so much after fleeing from society, but it always seemed as though the... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Ombrosa is full of vineyards, and as Cosimo gets older, he becomes light enough to walk across the trellises. Every year around harvest... (full context)
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...something. At this, someone blows into a conch, a song rises among the harvesters and Cosimo, and the harvesters pick and crush grapes faster than ever. A battle breaks out and... (full context)
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...terrified nobles, including Biagio, lock themselves in their villas. The people celebrate and sing as Cosimo lectures on Rousseau and Voltaire. Soon after, troops arrive from Genoa and Austria to squash... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Biagio explains that Cosimo told so many wild tales about his exploits during the war that it’s impossible to... (full context)
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Cosimo hears something move as he reaches a mossy spot. He realizes that what he thought... (full context)
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Cosimo collaborates often with the Republican Army. His notoriety as a Jacobin among the Austro-Sardinians spreads,... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...capture by the Republican Army, and Ombrosa sets up a government in the French style. Cosimo joins the provisional council despite many still believing he’s mad, but Cosimo’s wonderful work of... (full context)
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Resentment for the troops grows, so Cosimo points out that they at least are funding the road. Napoleon’s men take animals and... (full context)
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...being crowned in Milan, Napoleon travels in Italy. The Ombrosotti arrange for him to visit Cosimo, and they choose a beautiful walnut tree and decorate it with ribbons. Napoleon arrives hours... (full context)
Chapter 29
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Cosimo quickly becomes very old. Everyone in Ombrosa waits for news as Napoleon’s army fails in... (full context)
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Another officer rides up, sends the riders along, and sadly addresses Cosimo. In French, they discuss Cosimo’s experience under Napoleon’s army. Cosimo notes that armies always cause... (full context)
Chapter 30
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...are gone. He can only express his ideas in this notebook. It was different when Cosimo was still alive. The only reason Biagio knows now that things have changed is because... (full context)
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Biagio says that Cosimo started sleeping in the walnut tree in the square. He refused to come down but... (full context)
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...wonders if it ever really existed. He wonders if the region only existed because of Cosimo’s life in the trees. It could all just be a story. (full context)