If on a winter’s night a traveler


Stars: ★★★★

Author: Italo Calvino

Year: 1979

Country: Italy 

Genre: Postmodern literature

Original title: Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore


If on a winter’s night a traveler (translated from the Italian Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore) is a very particular book. The protagonist is a reader, referred to as “you” or “the reader”. He starts a book by Italo Calvino, but just when it starts getting interesting, he finds out there’s something wrong with the edition of the book and he cannot go on reading it. So he goes to the shop where he bought it to complain and get another copy. The thing is, the book he started wasn’t even Italo Calvino’s. It was a book by a Polish author, and now he wants to finish that one. He gets a copy, but then again, there’s something wrong with it and he cannot go on reading. This way he starts ten different books that, for varied reasons, are always interrupted.

Calvino structured his book in alternating chapters, always one narrating what happens to the protagonist and another that is the beginning of the book he reads. All of these beginnings are very different from each other, as they’re supposed to be written by different authors and belong to different genres. I didn’t like some of them, but I got really hooked in others and got as frustrated as the protagonist when I couldn’t go on reading. My favourites were the beginnings of Looks down in the gathering shadow and In a network of lines that enlace (this one reminded me a lot of Julio Cortázar). The good thing is that, having parts of ten books to read, you’ll sure like at least one of them. The chapters about the protagonist are also very interesting, although they start getting more convoluted as you move towards the end of the book, what may get you a bit lost. They are also very absurd at times, but they’re obviously this way on purpose, so I wouldn’t take that as a bad thing.

As you can see, I wasn’t joking when I said this was a very particular book. And that is exactly what I like so much about it, that it breaks all barriers and throws to garbage the idea we had about literature. In my case, I love it when I come across a book like this, but if you’re not that kind of reader, and prefer something more conventional or light, you’ll probably not feel very comfortable with Calvino’s book. However, I recommend you to try it. I think that everything that opens your mind is good, and if there’s something this book does is getting you out of the box. ☎


– Written by GuadiRC –


One Response to If on a winter’s night a traveler

  1. Pingback: Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore | Glutton for books, movies & series

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