The Fairy-tale of If on a winter's night a traveler
In the past, fairy-tales have been a major form of writing for the great minds of the imaginative authors of the world. In search of cultural roots, much of Europe focused on its folktale and fairy-tales. However, Early Modern and Contemporary Italy took its tales and changed, manipulated, and combined them, having dissimilar concerns as the other societies of Europe. Influenced by his nation's overall approach to its heritage, Italo Calvino, in his novel If on a winter's night a traveler, is blatantly provided with a fundamental structure, plot, and theme through his use of the fairy-tale.
"You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade." (Calvino 3). Calvino's opening sentences, even the first couple pages, exemplify what the reader would be told by a storyteller, as a young child would hear, cuddling within his or her warm, blanket-covered utopia, while mother's contiguous body not only provides comfort and security, but a fairy-tale incipit; the child's ear drums focus in on a lulling frequency incessantly flowing from the mother's fatigued mouth. The didactic beginning of this novel is a mechanism Calvino utilizes to ensure the reader that a fantastic, adventurous story is about to begin.
The "Once upon a time" cliche that has dominated the first sentence of fairy-tales in the past is replaced with "So, then, you..." where the actual plot then begins (Calvino 4). The Reader takes the first steps on his quest for a final, complete text. Within those few initial steps, he begins his double quest for his princess, the female reader, Ludmilla. Searching for a complete text, Ludmilla and the Reader experience a most precarious adventure through ten incipits. In each incipit, they encounter animosity, hardship, and even danger. They venture across novels from Belgium, Ireland, Japan, Latin America, and three fictitious countries. In each novel, they are obstructed by conflicts created to stop them from reaching their goal. This is a representation of the magnified efforts of evil to curtail the valiant persistence of the hero and heroine.
"On the whole, the world of the Italian tale is gentle; its favorite theme is love (both boy-girl love and family love)" (Guton 91). Love, in this sense, is shown not only in the frame story, but in the microcosmic world of each of the incipits as well. One of Calvino's implications in If on a winter's night a traveler is to accept and understand the intricacies of the world through love.
In the Reader's quest for Ludmilla's love, he once again faces conflicts which interfere with him reaching his goal. Silas Flannery, who also wishes to gain the heart and love of Ludmilla, tempts the Reader in an effort to influence him to digress from his cause. Silas Flannery places upon the Reader the obstacle of...