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

by Italo Calvino, Willliam Weaver (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,539170360 (4.07)1 / 427
Member:peirastic
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
Rating:****
Tags:20th century, postmodernism, metafiction, fiction, italian literature

Work details

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

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    Artran: Metafiction, stories within stories, tale about power of storytelling, Ajvaz wittingly elaborate Calvino's aesthetics.
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English (152)  French (5)  Italian (4)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (171)
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)
There are terribly few authors that can write experimentally while remaining humorous, engaging, and heartfelt. Calvino is one of the bunch. Each chapter of this book manages to capture the reader's attention in new and unexpected ways- all while maintaining a separate narrative and thematic thread. Probably a great place to start for someone new to his work...though my favorites remain Invisible CIties and The Baron in the Trees. ( )
  Matthew.Ducmanas | Mar 18, 2016 |
What the fuck did I just read ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
What the fuck did I just read ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
One of those books that I had to force myself to keep reading because I kept asking myself, "what's the point." However, as experimental novels go, this is a blockbuster. It makes one question not only the nature of reality, but also one's own sanity. From Wikipedia: "This book is about a reader trying to read a book called _If on a winter's night a traveler_. The first chapter and every odd-numbered chapter are in the second person, and tell the reader what he is doing in preparation for reading the next chapter. The even-numbered chapters are all single chapters from whichever book the reader is trying to read." Sound confusing, well, it is!

( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Who could resist a title like “If on a winter’s night a traveler”? You start reading, get engaged with the story, but suddenly the promise is broken – the rest of the book’s pages are missing and you are in Calvino’s world of examining writers and readers, their relationship and the shadows that fall between them. The metaphysical meanderings, excursions into mysticism, criticisms of publishers and censors are interspersed with first chapters of ten different books, each carrying an emotional weight not found in the expository chapters, which tell a story but aren’t thrilling.

Calvino writes: “The romantic fascination produced in the pure state by the first sentences of the first chapter of many novels is soon lost in the continuation of the story…..I would like to be able to write a book that is only an "incipit", that maintains for its whole duration the potentiality of the beginning”.

I don’t think he does that in this book, but I kept reading to enjoy his extraordinary and joyous use of language.
( )
  Jeannine504 | Jan 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 152 (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
Kapari, JormaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kroeber, BurkhartTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Melander, VivecaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sallenave, DanièleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strömberg, RagnarPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlot, HennyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Washington, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weaver, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Daniele Ponchiroli
First words
You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler.
Quotations
"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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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 6 descriptions

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