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If on a Winter's Night a Traveler Paperback – October 20, 1982
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The real Calvino intersperses 10 different pastiches--stories of menace, spies, mystery, premonition--with explorations of how and why we read, make meanings, and get our bearings or fail to. Meanwhile the Reader and Ludmilla try to reach, and read, each other. If on a Winter's Night is dazzling, vertiginous, and deeply romantic. "What makes lovemaking and reading resemble each other most is that within both of them times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Never have I read a book that communicates with and understands its reader so well. Writers like Nabokov and Pynchon like to have fun with their readers by posing literary puzzles, but here Calvino empathizes with the avid reader's feelings of frustration from interruptions, expectations, academic blathering, and personal efforts to reflect on literature.
The protagonist of this novel is none other than you yourself, the reader. The novel is about the protagonist's (i.e., your) attempt to finish reading the novel that you have started. However, problems keep cropping up, obstructing you from your goal: misprintings, mixups, interruptions, paramilitary operations, incarceration. Joining you in your quest is Ludmilla, a woman you met in the bookstore and whom you would like to date. Ludmilla has a sister, Lotaria, a feminist who thinks literature should be used to further her polemic agenda and represents the kind of "ideological cheerleading" for which critic Harold Bloom has so much disdain. Ludmilla, on the other hand, represents the perfect passive reader who reads for purely escapist purposes.
The novel's structure is entirely original and somewhat difficult to describe.Read more ›
Besides Tom Robbins' "Half Asleep in Frog's Pajamas", this is the only book you've ever read written (mostly) in second person narration. 'You' are the protagonist of the story, and are directly addressed by the author/narrator. 'You' are the Reader. This is a technique that Calvino uses very well, especially when he manages to predict (or accurately tell) the circumstances around how 'you' bought the book, how 'you're' reading it, and 'your' thoughts and feelings concerning it.
You notice that this book has no story, per se. Instead, it is about Stories. The structure of the book is more important than the narrative thrust. A Reader (you) begins reading Italo Calvino's new book, "If on a winter's night a traveller". But the book is misprinted, and ends halfway through. So you head down to the bookshop, anxious to get your money back. There you encounter The Other Reader, a young woman also foiled in her attempt to read Calvino's new book. You both buy a new copy from the shopkeeper, only when you get it home, you realize it is not Calvino's new book at all, but something called "Outside the town of Malbork". Things continue this way, back and forth from thwarted novel to encounters with The Other Reader (who, by this time, you've developed quite a crush on). Along the way, you will meet many other shady literary characters, like The Non Reader, The Writer, and the Plagiarist. Do not be afraid of these men.Read more ›
I would never have guessed all the different roads I would go down as I read this book.
You'll fall in love. You'll pull your hair out. You'll throw the book across the room. And then you'll go pick it up again.
Any attempts to describe this book any better than this will either not be well-understood or will ruin the effect of discovering it for yourself.
If you are prepared to put aside your standard concepts of literary narrative and explore a new experiment, this book is definitely for you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was simply amazing. There were so many profound thoughts expressed in its pages, it quickly became the best book I've ever read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by bikesurfer
actually this is only the second calvino book I read. His stories bring you in and encourage thinking, it's not a quick light hearted romp through conspiracies or starships but... Read morePublished 2 months ago by B. Barnes
It was an ok book. It was required by my college english class so probably would have been more enjoyable if it weren't an assignment.Published 3 months ago by Stephanie Trussell
This book is bananas in the best possible way. Challenging, but fun to keep up with.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Haven't read a book I enjoyed so much in a while. Hang in there until the end, it will be worth it.Published 4 months ago by Robin Krusenoski
The sexism is almost unbearable in the fourth quarter, but regardless the best book I've ever read.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
The fact that this is a second person narrative does not distract from the fun story line. Italo Calvino wrote a witty novel that introduced various stories and kept me inetrested... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Daisy Preciado