If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
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Italo Calvino imagines a novel capable of endless mutations in this intricately crafted story about writing and readers.
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, and each interrupted at a moment of suspense. Together they form a labyrinth of literatures, known and unknown, alive and extinct, through which two readers, a male and a female, pursue both the story lines that intrigue them and one another.
me." "Did Ludmilla send you?" "No, but I'm always wandering around, I meet this one and I meet that one, I hear something here and see something there, and I naturally put them together." "Do you also know where I'm supposed to go?" "If you like, I'll take you to Uzzi-Tuzii. Either Ludmilla has been there for a while already or she'll come late." This young man, so extroverted and well informed, is named Irnerio. You can call him tu, since he already calls you that. "Are you a student of the
"It's a book of the sort you like: it conveys a sense of uneasiness from the very first page...." An interrogative flash passes in her gaze. A doubt seizes you; perhaps this phrase about uneasiness isn't something you heard her say, you read it somewhere.... Or perhaps Ludmilla has already stopped believing in anguish as a condition of truth.... Perhaps someone has demonstrated to her that anguish, too, is a mechanism, that there is nothing more easily falsified than the unconscious.... "I like
they cannot be distinguished, by any critic, from true Flannerys. The news of this diabolical swindle has profoundly upset me, but it goes beyond my understandable fury at the economic and moral injury: I feel also a timid attraction for these fakes, for this extension of myself that blossoms from the terrain of another civilization. I imagine an old Japanese in his kimono crossing a curved little bridge: he is my Nipponese self imagining one of my stories, and he succeeds in identifying himself
arouse unusual emotions. This writer apparently has a good technique and a certain elasticity of ideas." "But have you read his books?" "What he has written so far is of no interest. The book he will write when he emerges from the crisis is the one that could contain the cosmic communications." 'Transmitted to him how?" "Mentally. He shouldn't even be aware of it. He would believe he is writing as he likes; instead, the message coming from space on waves picked up by his brain would
nothing I continue to call the Prospect, I see a slender form advancing, in a pale fur jacket: it's Franziska! I recognize her stride in her high boots, and the way she keeps her arms hidden in her muff, and the long striped scarf flapping after her. The cold air and the cleared terrain guarantee good visibility, but I wave my arms in vain, trying to attract her attention: she can't recognize me, we're still too far apart. I advance, hastening my steps; at least I think I'm advancing, but I lack