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If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by…

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (original 1979; edition 1981)

by Italo Calvino, Willliam Weaver (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,928185336 (4.07)1 / 444
Title:If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
Authors:Italo Calvino
Other authors:Willliam Weaver (Translator)
Info:Harvest (1981), Paperback, 260 pages
Collections:Your library, Read
Tags:20th century, postmodernism, metafiction, fiction, italian literature

Work details

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino (1979)

  1. 122
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    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (Ludi_Ling)
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  5. 20
    The Logogryph: A Bibliography Of Imaginary Books by Thomas Wharton (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Excerpts and intimations of books that don't exist. A celebration of reading.
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  7. 00
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    Voyage Along the Horizon: A Novel by Javier Marías (rebeccanyc)
    rebeccanyc: Both books deal with books within books, and have a mysterious feel.
  9. 00
    Cesta na jih by Michal Ajvaz (Artran)
    Artran: Metafiction, stories within stories, tale about power of storytelling, Ajvaz wittingly elaborate Calvino's aesthetics.
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English (167)  French (5)  Italian (4)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  All (1)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (186)
Showing 1-5 of 167 (next | show all)
Very entertaining, a little too clever at times, and whole lot of self-referential, psychological, and textual reflection. ( )
  cambernard90 | Apr 12, 2017 |
Pretentious! Oh boy. Then again, the person who indirectly recommended it to me began with, "I'm over [b:Infinite Jest|6759|Infinite Jest|David Foster Wallace|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1165604485s/6759.jpg|3271542], Italo Calvino's [b:If on a Winter's Night a Traveler|374233|If on a Winter's Night a Traveler|Italo Calvino|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1355316130s/374233.jpg|1116802] is now my favourite book."

There were a lot of really good aspects to this novel, though I was pretty uninterested in the "Chapters" of the first half. Luckily that grew more appealing in the second, or I was more prepared for it, perhaps, since there had been some significant break between (and this book ran the risk of being unfinished by me). There's some really blatant Orientalism, but the physicality of that section was really tangible, so I was there pursing my lips with frustration at the same time as I was narrowing my eyes with deeper consideration.

Of course I was reading [b:Cloud Atlas|49628|Cloud Atlas|David Mitchell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344305390s/49628.jpg|1871423] two months ago so turning to this book was natural and the end result is that I haven't decided how I feel about Italo Calvino. I intend to read [b:Invisible Cities|9809|Invisible Cities|Italo Calvino|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348058607s/9809.jpg|68476] as well, though it will likely wait for summer since I have spent far too much time reading books entirely unrelated to my classes/thesis.

Major bonus: bought this at Bacchus Books while visiting a sister in Golden. Had the prettiest bookmark reading BACCHUS in a large and pleasing typeface. This is how all bookmarks should be. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
A lot of fun! A novel about reading and readers, containing a string of interrupted narratives alongside the book's own story line. The protagonists are the Reader and the Other Reader, but often Calvino talks to you, or you become the Reader, so while you are reading the book Calvino imagines you both the reader of the book and a character in it. While reading he makes you feel as if he is speaking to you, a feat which few writers aim at, and if they do, accomplish.
  bartt95 | Mar 3, 2017 |
I loved how Calvino describes reading in the opening chapter and then how he inserts bits of the writing and reading process throughout the book. I'm also frustrated, because like the Reader, I want to continue reading all of the beginnings. There were a few bits, namely Chapter 9, that were a bit too Kafkaesque for my taste. ( )
  Bodagirl | Feb 19, 2017 |
I have a lot of disjointed thoughts about this book but then the book was disjointed so that makes sense. so this is about reading, about writing. It's clever. When I read a book like this I am impressed with the cleverness but when I think of it as a book that is enjoyable to read, it isn't that. This was work. It did not pull me along. So here are my random thoughts. The book starts out with a train, small town and I am reading The Idiot by Dostoevsky so the tow remind me of each other. The next thing I notice is that the book is about writing and the process of writing, how the writer develops the story and the how the reader approaches the story. From this, I am reminded of Stephen King's On Writing. The writing is postmodernist narrative and it is a Frame story. We first have the story from one perspective followed by commentary of the story from another perspective and the story keeps changing. Each chapter divided into two parts. You, the reader, is a character in the book. It is a "Quest" to finish the book. The journey, arrival/frustration, final ordeal, goal. Also for me, I notice that as the reader goes from book to book, the creativity of the writer deteriorates, more use of ghost writer, formulas, plagiarism, computers and less story telling and more sex and erotica.

I know that this is gifted writing, I appreciated much, but I really did not enjoy the time I spent on it. ( )
1 vote Kristelh | Jan 13, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 167 (next | show all)
Re-reading a novel you loved is like revisiting a city where you loved: you do it in the company of your younger self. You may not get on with your younger self, or else the absence of what is missing colours your judgment. Despite my reservations, however, I wouldn't want a word of If on a winter's night a traveller to be different, and if Calvino's ghost seeks me out after this, I'll still get down on my knees and pay homage.

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Calvino, Italoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Benítez, EstherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cooley, StevenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kapari, JormaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kroeber, BurkhartTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Melander, VivecaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raboni, GiovanniAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sallenave, DanièleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salu, MichaelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strömberg, RagnarPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlot, HennyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walsmith, SheltonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Washington, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weaver, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Daniele Ponchiroli
First words
You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler.
"Your case gives me new hope," I said to him. "With me, more and more often I happen to pick up a novel that has just appeared and I find myself reading the same book I have read a hundred times."
In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven’t Read, which were frowning at you from tables and shelves, trying to cow you. But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn’t Read, the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written. And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days are Numbered.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
If on a winter's night a traveler

Outside the town of Malbork

Leaning from the steep slope

Without fear of wind or vertigo

Looks down in the gathering shadow

In a network of lines that enlace

In a network of lines that intersect

On the carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon

Around an empty grave

What story down there awaits its end?
Haiku summary
Reader do beware / You are just a reader, yet / Here you're subject too. (Ludi_Ling)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156439611, Paperback)

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."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:37 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Calvino shows that the novel, far from being a dead form, is capable of endless mutations. If on a winter's night a traveler turns out to be not one novel but ten, each with a different plot, style, ambience, and author.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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