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If On A Winter's Night A Traveller (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 20 Feb 1992

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (20 Feb. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099430894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099430896
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Italo Calvino was born in Cuba in 1923 and grew up in Italy. He was an essayist and journalist and a member of the editorial staff of Einaudi in Turin. One of the most respected writers of our time, his best-known works of fiction include Invisible Cities, If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, Marcovaldo and Mr Palomar. In 1973 he won the prestigious Premio Feltrinelli. He died in 1985. A collection of Calvino's posthumous personal writings, The Hermit in Paris, was published in 2003.

Product Description

Review

"Breathtakingly inventive" (David Mitchell)

"The greatest Italian writer of the twentieth century" (Guardian)

"Reading Calvino, you're constantly assailed by the notion that he is writing down what you have always known, except that you've never thought of it before.This is highly unnerving: fortunately you're usually too busy laughing to go mad... I can think of no finer writer to have beside me while Italy explodes, Britain burns, while the world ends" (Salman Rushdie)

"A devastating, wonderfully ingenious parody of all those dreary best-sellers you buy at the airport... It is a "world novel": take it with you next time you plan to travel in an armchair" (Lorna Sage Observer)

"A brilliant work of the imagination and the intellect working in union.And, by the way, it's very funny also" (Scotsman)

Book Description

'Breathtakingly inventive' David Mitchell

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 95 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
One definition of metafiction is "Fiction that deals, often playfully and self-referentially, with the writing of fiction or its conventions." That could pretty much describe Italo Calvino's "If On A Winter's Night A Traveler," a gloriously surreal story about the hunt for a mysterious book.
A reader opens Italo Calvino's latest novel, "If On A Winter's Night A Traveller," only to have the story cut short. Turns out it was a defective copy, with another book's pages inside. But as the reader tries to find out what book the defective pages belong to, he keeps running into even more books and more difficulties -- as well as the beautiful Ludmilla, a fellow reader who also received a defective book.
With Ludmilla assisting him (and, he hopes, going to date him), the reader then explores obscure dead languages, publishers' shops, bizarre translators and various other obstacles. All he wants is to read an intriguing book. But he keeps stumbling into tales of murder and sorrow, annoying professors, and the occasional radical feminist -- and a strange literary conspiracy. Will he ever finish the book?
In its own way, "If On A Winter's Night A Traveler" is a mystery story, a satire, a romance, and a treasure hunt. Any book whose first chapter explains how you're supposed to read it has got to be a winner -- "You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, "If On A Winter's Night a Traveler." Relax. Concentrate." And so on, with Calvino gently joking and chiding the reader before actually beginning his strange little tale.
As cute as that first chapter is, it also sets the tone for this strange, funny metafictional tale, which not only inserts Calvino but the reader.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Anapaest on 7 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
I bought this book having seen it mentioned in various lists for 'Greatest Books of the 20th Century'. If you are a fan of the post-modernist novel then this should please you as it plays with the structure of the novel and with ideas of literary conventions in a very smart way. Calvino was clearly ahead of his time because authors like Peter Carey have clearly borrowed the convention in books examining the act of writing books. If you are a real literary 'nut' or member of the post-modernist cognoscenti then you should enjoy the way that the book leads you along various twists and turns, forensically examining the nature of writing and the fallacy of the novel.

I personally found the book to be a little too clever and I never felt drawn into the self-referential world that is created by the central quest of the book. I greatly admire the intellectual trapeze act, but was left feeling a little cold.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J. Skade VINE VOICE on 26 May 2003
Format: Paperback
Calvino once described a young readers first acquaintance with Stendhal's 'Charterhouse at Parma' and how they are overwhelmed by the first pages recognising the novel they had always wanted to read; how the novel then develops along different lines becoming a multiplicity of novels. He could have been describing this novel. The reader is immediately arrested by the opening chapter in which 'the reader' buys a copy of 'If On A Winters Night A Traveller' by Italo Calvino. The whole description is more engaging and a lot funnier than you might think. The chapter seems to herald a whole new kind of novel. The remainder of the novel follows a number of different directions, but it is the first chapter which remains in the mind most clearly.
It is a novel about novels - usually the most tedious of postmodernist cliches, yet this novel centres on reading rather than writing. The unnamed reader begins a number of novels which for increasingly bizarre reasons he is unable to continue. He meets a fellow reader, Ludmilla with whom he joins in the quest to find these lost novels and with whom he begins a romance. On his quest he encounters publishers and academics a literary forger, censors - in fact pretty much every element of the literature industry ( including a non-reader who uses books to create sculptures), yet he remains the pure disinterested reader.
The book is packed tight with ideas and jokes plus some marvellous literary pastiches - my favourite being the erotic japanese novel.
Calvino belongs to the worlds of Sterne and Joyce and in this case more particularly Borges and Flann O'Brien. It is the perfect book for those who love experiment, playfulness and cerebral humour. It is probably the best introduction to a marvellous (in all senses) writer.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "mr-sprout" on 12 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
I might have read this differently to the others who have reviewed it, but I didn't see anything non-linear about it. As I read it, I took the 'meta-fiction' framework to be the actual story, with the first chapters of various novels there to highlight the frustrations of the Reader who is trying to find the end of all these books. The framework itself, I thought, is far more interesting than most of the chapters. The idea of a rogue translater causing all of this trouble, with literary terrorists running around jumbling up manuscripts was hilarious. The chapters themselves varied greatly, not in quality (they were all excellently written), but in content that kept me interested. What struck me about them more than the actual content was the huge amount of styles Calvino seems able to adopt when he needs to. Very amusing and thought provoking at the same time.
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