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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

Blurb (from the jacket):

You go into a bookshop and buy If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino. You like it. But alas there is a printer's error in your copy. You take it back to the shop and get a replacement. But the replacement seems to be a totally different story. You try to track down the original book you were reading but end up with a different narrative again. This remarkable novel leads you through many different books including a detective adventure, a romance, a satire, an erotic story, a diary and a quest. But the real hero is you, the reader.

My take on the book:
My very first Calvino ever. So I started off pretty excitedly. From the very first line I was intrigued beyond redemption.

To talk of the edition. I have always loved the peculiar design of Vintage Classics. They have this VINTAGE 'Last Name of the author' printed in upper-case letters on the top-right corner of the corner. For some unknown reason, I love it. And also, their red spines. When all the Vintage classics are stacked together, the red band they form is priceless to gaze at.

Getting right to the point, I want to confess that I had a nightmare completing this book. However, I had this feeling not skipping the book, so it took more than 2 weeks for me to complete this one! In the course of reading it, I was kind of facing, what could be best called as, Readers' block. The language is one of the toughest I have ever read. Perhaps, it can't be the mistake of the author, as there stands a translator in the middle. He might have complicated the language, but however if this is how the author had written in Italian than I would truly despise the author from the bottom of my heart.

The book is best for High school studies. It is no good for actual reading. Like as a novel. I am certain one must carry a dictionary around to grasp the actual meaning out of the novel. Also even the sentence compromises of easy words, it needs three to four readings to actually get something into the head.

On the contrary, I pretty much the experiment the author had committed. I have always known of two kinds of narrative styles: first- and third-person. But then the author in this novel introduced me to the second-person narrative style, with 'you' as the protagonist. Yeah, you, the reader. I have been the protagonist to the story I just completed reading.

Yeah, the idea is crazy. Think about it. The author is trying to narrate what you are doing in the novel, which you are actually reading. It is kind of a diary that is written by the author, which contains the records of events which you don't acknowledge ever experiencing. Perhaps, it could be defined as the record of days, you have spent amnesiac.

However, the concept of the book is pretty interesting. You, the protagonist, read the Italo Calvino's new book in the market. But a few pages into the book you realize you are have bought a defective piece. You exchange the book for the original and you find out it is entirely a different story and so on you keep reading only starts of many stories and have to give up for some reason or the other just when the story gets interesting.

And that is not it. The novel has more to it. It is the narration that is way more worth than the concept of the book, or the ideologies. The author's questioning narrative will give you a very fresh insight into life. Rather than providing you with a score of answers, you are left with more questions. That is how the author tries to invoke in you deep sense of fulfillment with doubts. Seriously, doubts are not such bad things.

On the whole, the book is all about making sense out of absurdity. And I had my share of drawbacks with the book. Hence the rating...



Title: If on a Winter's Night a Traveller

Author: Italo Calvino

ISBN (edition I've read): 9780099430896


Read between: 11-05-2014 to 27-05-2014

Publishers: Vintage Publishers

Pages: 260

MRP: ₹ 399

The best deal of this book could be found here:  

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