If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

Dissapointment in If on a winter's night a traveller 12th Grade

The traditional structure and approach to literature is challenged in If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino. For this idiosyncratic narrative, the main character is referred to as the reader, and the novel is told in the second person. Every other chapter is the first chapter of a different book, but each comes to an abrupt stop as the book is lost, misprinted or otherwise un-continued; through this desperate attempt to finish the stories, the reader, is taken around the world with The Other Reader, another character. In If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Calvino creates a web of constant desire and disappointment that drags The Reader deeper into the predominant plot to chase down the perfect book and way to read.

Calvino creates a universal desire for a perfect, unattainable book through the offhand comments of characters through the novel. In the readers interactions with Professor Uzzi-Tuzzi Ludmilla, the other reader, says books are definite, however the professor comments on page 72 that a perfect book can “only be thought, imagined”. By directly countering Ludmilla’s idea that books are defined ideas, he suggests that within reading there is some void, and that reading is more than what is on the page. He...

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