The Baron in the Trees

The Baron in the Trees

by

Italo Calvino

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A fearsome thief who terrorizes everyone in Ombrosa. He has a reputation for being ruthless and uncompromising. In the weeks before Cosimo meets him, he discovers that all the robberies attributed to Gian dei Brughi haven’t actually been committed by the man himself; many thieves work with dei Brughi and use his name to protect themselves. This begins to change when, in dei Brughi’s old age, he meets Cosimo while escaping from some constables, and the two develop a relationship in which Cosimo passes novels to the bandit. A lifelong reader, Gian dei Brughi is thrilled to finally have access to books, though the relationship becomes trying for Cosimo since dei Brughi wants to know about all the books Cosimo gives him, so Cosimo has to at least skim them first. Though dei Brughi is happy for the first time in a long time with his novels—especially Samuel Richardson’s novel Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady—this newfound habit ultimately leads to his death, since his desire to get back to reading means that he bungles an attempted robbery and is captured. In dei Brughi’s final days, Cosimo learns several important lessons about what it means to help someone be happy and die with dignity. He reads dei Brughi the rest of a partially-finished novel and begins reading another one that’s happy in order to lift the bandit’s spirit. Cosimo shares the book’s ending with dei Brughi on the day of the bandit’s hanging so that dei Brughi can die satisfied. Biagio also insists that Cosimo learned the importance of helping others from dei Brughi.

Gian dei Brughi Quotes in The Baron in the Trees

The The Baron in the Trees quotes below are all either spoken by Gian dei Brughi or refer to Gian dei Brughi. 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 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:
Quotes explanation long mobile
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Gian dei Brughi Character Timeline in The Baron in the Trees

The timeline below shows where the character Gian dei Brughi appears in The Baron in the Trees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
...ferocious bandit chief. Viola insists that bandits have guns and that the bandit chief is Gian dei Brughi , who brings her gifts at Christmas. Cosimo spits back that Baron Arminio is right... (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 and Ottimo Massimo scour the forest looking for the bandit unsuccessfully, and... (full context)
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...tree, a shabby-looking man races ahead of two constables who shout that they’re running down Gian dei Brughi . Cosimo throws a rope down to the bandit, who climbs up. Cosimo moves into... (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 and reading, he devours novels quickly. He also has particular tastes,... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Gian dei Brughi used to lead a band of men in trouble with the law, and all of... (full context)
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Gian dei Brughi doesn’t care at all about his trial—he knows he’ll be hanged—but he does care about... (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. After the bandit’s death, Biagio... (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
...he wants to be useful to his neighbors (Biagio insists that Cosimo learned this from Gian dei Brughi ). Cosimo learns to prune trees and so prunes orchards and gardens in winter. As... (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
...also makes enemies. The iterant people, for one, fall on hard times after Cosimo introduces Gian dei Brughi to books, so one night Cosimo wakes to discover that someone set a fire right... (full context)
Chapter 15
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
...he knows that Baron Arminio will suffer if word gets out. He also vowed after Gian dei Brughi ’s death that he’d never attend another hanging, and he can’t bear the thought of... (full context)