If on a Winter's Night a Traveler


Cimmeria is a fictional country in the novel. The country is described as having existed as an independent state between World War I and World War II. The capital is Örkko, and its principal resources are peat and by-products, bituminous compounds. It seems to have been located somewhere on the Gulf of Bothnia. The country has since been absorbed, and its people and language, of the 'Bothno-Ugaric' group, have both disappeared. As Calvino concludes the alleged, fictional encyclopedia entry concerning Cimmeria: "In successive territorial divisions between her powerful neighbors the young nation was soon erased from the map; the autochthonous population was dispersed; Cimmerian language and culture had no development" (If on a winter's night a traveler, pp. 43–44).

The pair of chapters following the two on Cimmeria and its literature are followed by one describing another fictional country called the Cimbrian People's Republic, a communist nation which allegedly occupied part of Cimmeria during the latter's decline.

Languages named Cimmerian and Cimbrian have both existed. The Cimmerians were an ancient tribal group, contemporary with the Scythians, who lived in southern Ukraine. The Cimbrian language still exists today, and is spoken by 2230 people in northern Italy, not too remote from Calvino's home in Turin.

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