Mercutio. Among his virtues, I admire above all his lightness in a world of brutality, his dreaming imagination – as the poet of Queen Mab – and at the same time his wisdom, as the voice of reason amid the fanatical hatreds of Capulets and Montagues. He sticks to the old code of chivalry at the price of his life, perhaps just the sake of style, and yet he is a modern man, skeptical and ironic – a Don Quixote who knows very well what dreams are and what reality is, and he lives both with open eyes.
From The New York Times 1985 obituary of Italo Calvino. The obituary is here citing an interview Calvino did with The New York Times Book Review in late 1984.