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If on a Winter's Night a Traveller
If on a Winter's Night a Traveller
Author: Italo Calvino, William Weaver (Translator)
Calvino's dazzling post-modernist masterpiece combines a love story, a detective story and a sardonic dissection of the publishing industry in a scintillating allegory of reading. Based on a witty analogy between the reader's desire to finish the story and the lover's desire to consummate his or her passion, If on a Winter’...  more »  is the tale of two bemused readers whose attempts to reach the end of same book -- If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller  by Italo Calvino -- are constantly and comically frustrated

You go into a bookshop and buy If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino. You like it. But alas there is a printer’s error in your copy. You take it back to the shop and get a replacement. But the replacement seems to be a totally different story. You try to track down the original book you were reading but end up with a different narrative again. This remarkable novel leads you through many different books including a detective adventure, a romance, a satire, an erotic story, a diary and a quest. But the real hero is you, the reader.

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler is a marvel of ingenuity, an experimental text that looks longingly back to the great age of narration--"when time no longer seemed stopped and did not yet seem to have exploded." Italo Calvino's novel is in one sense a comedy in which the two protagonists, the Reader and the Other Reader, ultimately end up married, having almost finished If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. In another, it is a tragedy, a reflection on the difficulties of writing and the solitary nature of reading. The Reader buys a fashionable new book, which opens with an exhortation: "Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade." Alas, after 30 or so pages, he discovers that his copy is corrupted, and consists of nothing but the first section, over and over. Returning to the bookshop, he discovers the volume, which he thought was by Calvino, is actually by the Polish writer Bazakbal. Given the choice between the two, he goes for the Pole, as does the Other Reader, Ludmilla. But this copy turns out to be by yet another writer, as does the next, and the next.

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."

    Translation of: Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore
ISBN-13: 9780749399238
ISBN-10: 0749399236
Publication Date: 10/20/1992
Pages: 256
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5 stars, based on 1 rating
Publisher: Vintage Random House UK Ltd
Book Type: Paperback
Members Wishing: 3
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