Italo Calvino is arguably one of Italy’s greatest modern novelist and in my opinion a literary genius. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler is a rare find – challenging yet brilliant to read – a true original. It’s been quite awhile since I read this one, but I am still astonished on how Calvino pulled this one off. This novel left me frustrated at times, yet entertained and intrigued to continue reading. You will realize soon after you start this one that you have to keep reading! The protagonist of this novel is you – the reader (written in second person) – it’s quite clever indeed! You are tied into the plot as soon as you start reading with the attempt to finish Calvino’s novel. However, problems keeps occurring, obstructing that ultimate mission. Combined you find, 22 passages, that are split between; the second-person narrative, that concerns the reader’s adventures in reading, If on a winter’s night a traveler and stories that are the first chapter of 10 different novels. All varying in style and genre from danger, mystery, sorrow, and romance that break off as they reach climax.
This novel explores how and why we read, touching on postmodernism, post-structuralism and existentialism. Calvino opens up the discussion of the interpretation of novels and subjectivity of their meaning. He theorizes how novels are open to infinite interpretations and that the meaning is determined by the reader rather than the author. He touches on how novels offer readers a reason to escape their convoluted structure of life, offering a pathway to their own personal meaning.
I absolutely recommend this read for all literature lovers, don’t get discourage and embrace the confusion; it will blow your mind.