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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, afteror 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 nextThe real Calvino interspersesdifferent pastiches stories of menace, spies, mystery, premonition with explorations of how and why we choose to 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 You are about to read Mark Nicholls s review of Italo Calvino s postmodern classic If on a Winter s Night a Traveller You might want to position yourself in a comfortable chair before you begin, or place a cushion behind your back, as we know how arduous it can be to read things off the internet You might also care to prepare a coffee, a light snack, or to switch a light on before beginning.You might be thinking that this review is not going to interest you, since book reviews on books you hav You are about to read Mark Nicholls s review of Italo Calvino s postmodern classic If on a Winter s Night a Traveller You might want to position yourself in a comfortable chair before you begin, or place a cushion behind your back, as we know how arduous it can be to read things off the internet You might also care to prepare a coffee, a light snack, or to switch a light on before beginning.You might be thinking that this review is not going to interest you, since book reviews on books you haven t read can often be frustrating For starters, the writer delves into details about the plot which spoil the surprises a blind reading of the book might create, and likewise you are unable to form an opinion yourself and share your thoughts on the text in question.Conversely, you might have read the text and are familiar with the second person narration that addresses the reader directly and places them as a protagonist in the book You might think this review an obvious imitation of Calvino s unique style, and become irate as you read on, wondering when the reviewer is going to get around to summarising the plot.In fact, you become so irate, you search for the book on , but are incandescent when you notice each review is also written in the same imitative style, and the gimmick becomes so irritating you have to leave the room for a moment to calm yourself down.As you leave the room, someone knocks on the door It is a door to door salesman offering copies of Italo Calvino s novel If on a Winter s Night a Traveller at a reduced price He begins his sale by saying You are wondering whether or not this novel is for you, or whether you might find a novel with the beginnings of ten separate novels included as part of the plot somewhat bemusing or distracting You are unsure whether to slam the door in my face, or to go get your credit card You slam the door in his face As you return to the living room, you notice that Mark Nicholls has broken into your house and is sitting naked on the couch reading Italo Calvino s novel If on a Winter s Night a Traveller You are very confused and frightened Feelings of arousal and apoplexy stir up inside you You decide to call the police, but Mark Nicholls springs up from the chair as you move towards the phone You are wondering whether to phone the police to remove Mark Nicholls from your house You are deeply confused as to why this reviewer whose opinions you find facile and banal is suddenly sitting naked on your couch reading the very book you were reading about, he says You look for a blunt instrument to hit him with, but can find only a cup You throw the cup, but he ducks and it breaks against the wall.You start to sob That was your best cup, and there is coffee over the walls and carpet Further, Mark Nicholls appears to be swinging his penis at you, performing an embarrassing 360 swingaround which slowly hypnotises you into a deep deep sleep When you wake up, you are at your desk Mark Nicholls and the coffee stain has gone You wonder why there is a grapefruit in your left hand and an antelope on your sofa Those of you who read only the opening sentence and skipped to the end get a strange feeling of anticlimax I say this is what happened Italo Calvino was suffering from a writer s block He would start a novel, get it to its first curve and abandon it before the resolution A few months later he would start another with a similar result Finally, his publishers got impatient because it had been years since the last novel and they said Italo, get your shit together We need a new book Now Italo panicked and did the only thing he could think of He glued all his failed attempts together and delivered I say this is what happened Italo Calvino was suffering from a writer s block He would start a novel, get it to its first curve and abandon it before the resolution A few months later he would start another with a similar result Finally, his publishers got impatient because it had been years since the last novel and they said Italo, get your shit together We need a new book Now Italo panicked and did the only thing he could think of He glued all his failed attempts together and delivered it to the publisher Here it is My new novel Er Italo, but those are just beginning of some 10 different books Yeah I know Don t you get it It s postmodernism Ok You know, I am playing with the concept of the author It is basically all about the reader now The author has become obsolete It is the reader that creates the work and the author is not even necessary Ah I see Do we still need to pay you then Yah Will mail you the invoice I have read most of the reviews on here and I agree with all of them, with the bad ones and the good ones all the same If you think this is contradictive and not possible, think again And one word for you deconstructionism.There is no doubt that Calvino is was one hell of a writer and he plays with his poor readers like a cat plays with a mouse This book was an absolute trip and really gets you dizzy It might or might not be a coincidence that a day after finishing it I caught some weird bug that made me throw up for two days straight.Now I am going to talk about one aspect that none of the reviewers have pointed out It is so fucking sexist, like HELLO All the female characters in each one of the novels as well as the main novel that puts the novels together have all the charecteristics of the Other The female reader is actually called The Other Reader for crying out loud Even when for a short moment the narration is switched to make the female reader the subject, it is only so that the male reader can run around her flat and describe her and define her and check this, she is NOT EVEN THERE Calvino makes her me the subject for a few pages and she is not even there She is forever passive All the female characters areor less passive They are also mysterious, intagible and ethereal and their actions usually make no sense to the subject of the narrative be it the You from the main narrative, or the various I s from the sub novels This kind of stuff really gets on my nerves Especially since I read The Other Sex by Simone de Beauvoir So Calvino, deconstruct that old as the world archetype, why don t you Only you can t because you are dead I arrived at the library with my two books in hand As I plunked them down on the check in counter, a thin matronly woman approached Would you like to check these books in Yes I would but I would also like to Oh, I see you read If on a Winter s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino Yes I did Have you read it too On starting the first few pages, you were put off by what appears to be a artistic gimmick Why yes a little but you soon realized that the author was trying to involve you I arrived at the library with my two books in hand As I plunked them down on the check in counter, a thin matronly woman approached Would you like to check these books in Yes I would but I would also like to Oh, I see you read If on a Winter s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino Yes I did Have you read it too On starting the first few pages, you were put off by what appears to be a artistic gimmick Why yes a little but you soon realized that the author was trying to involve you in his dadaist alternate reality by connecting to the only reality the author and reader have in common The world of words and symbolism Well, I m not sure I saw it that way But now that you mention it The book caused you to not only suspend disbelief but examine your own concepts of what is means to immerse yourself in literature Actually I just want to check these books in It is unlike anything you have ever read before Even unlike anything Calvino has written before But he tells you that in the first three pages For the unique part of the novel is that Calvino holds nothing back about the mechanics of his literary mind OK, this is getting a little weird It makes you wonder Is there any reality except for that which we perceive through our imagination This is getting a lot weird Would you please How do you know that we are not actually in a novel this very moment OK, Stop that Or maybe we are in a review of a novel CUT THAT OUT Or a figment of someone s web page ARRRGGHH I grabbed a pen off the counter, leaped up, and rammed the pen through her forehead, stabbing her several times None of the other people seemed to notice except an old man busy in his reading who pointed to the Quiet sign and made a hushing sound After making sure she was quite dead I dragged her into the Mystery section which I felt was as good as any place to leave a corpse I had just returned to the counter when another woman came out from the back That s funny I was sure Mrs Peachtree was manning the desk Well, never mind How can I help you I would like to return these two books Why of course Did you want to renew your loan on either book If on a Winter s Night a Traveler, no But on Crime and Punishment, yes