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Italo Calvino's Intentions In "If On A Winter's Night A Traveller"

1867 words - 7 pages

Upon opening the book, and beginning to read the first chapter, it felt as though the author was introducing me to the book as if in real life. The author spoke as if he wasn't telling the story, but instead preparing you for the story. The fact of the matter, is that he was doing both. Calvino was preparing the reader for the first story of the book by listing the best ways to read a book by removing any distractions and getting comfortable. Reading this was very hard going, as the first chapter to me it read like a set of stereo instructions and it made me think I don't need to be told the best way read a book, as the best way to read a book is all down to personal preference. However, in reflection it is quite amusing, as at first we don't really realise that we are playing an active role in the book. Calvino at this point is describing the reader in second person despite him describing you as the reader. The "you" is the "reader" which is the main protagonist of the book. This is made clear in chapter eight of the book where we are reading the diary of Silas Flannery who is the villain of the book.

The book is very thought provoking in the sense that it raises various issues in life and in the readers' own thoughts that the reader didn't know existed or was aware of these thoughts but denied thinking them. The final page of chapter one talks about the unmistakeable tone of the author, but then contradicts itself by saying that this tone is unrecognisable. The reason behind this is because we all read books in a certain tone in our head that we unconsciously presume to be the storyteller but is in reality our own conscience reading the book. This is quite amusing in itself because of the truth of it, but it is also serious because it tells us to be more of our thoughts before taking them for granted.

The first story of the book uses the first person perspective instead of the third. This is quite mis-leading at the time because we presume that what we are reading is actually the words that have been written by the author, but is in fact the perspective of the reader reading the book and taking an active role in the book. However, this is not so much noticeable in this first story as it does read like a normal book. As the book progresses we begin to realise that the tone used is the reader's perspective. To me, this is not particularly amusing but very confusing, but looking at it from Calvino's point of view it is amusing to think that he is playing a joke on the reader and constantly `spinning out' the reader. Unfortunately though, we can never be really sure what the author's true intentions were when writing the book.

The first story of the book is about someone who is travelling. He arrives at the train station and goes into the station bar where he hears about the lives of the locals. These locals apparently seem to lead predictable lives, as a couple of the locals are placing bets on the actions of the other locals when they...

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