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If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  72,248 ratings  ·  5,802 reviews
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler is a marvel of ingenuity, an experimental text that looks longingly back to the great age of narration—"when time no longer seemed stopped and did not yet seem to have exploded." Italo Calvino's novel is in one sense a comedy in which the two protagonists, the Reader and the Other Reader, ultimately end up married, having almost finished I ...more
Paperback, 260 pages
Published October 20th 1982 by L&OD Key Porter (first published 1979)
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Smallllama Are you sure you bought the book that you think you did? I remember I had some trouble getting ahold of a copy.
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Are you sure you bought the book that you think you did? I remember I had some trouble getting ahold of a copy.
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Adrian Di The publisher's apparently had some confusion and certain runs of the book were misprinted or even contained parts or wholes of other books. If you ta…moreThe publisher's apparently had some confusion and certain runs of the book were misprinted or even contained parts or wholes of other books. If you take it back to the bookstore I'm sure they can point you in the direction of another reader who encountered the same problem and you two can work it out together.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.05  · 
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MJ Nicholls
You are about to read Mark Nicholls’s review of Italo Calvino’s postmodern classic If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller. You might want to position yourself in a comfortable chair before you begin, or place a cushion behind your back, as we know how arduous it can be to read things off the internet. You might also care to prepare a coffee, a light snack, or to switch a light on before beginning.

You might be thinking that this review is not going to interest you, since book reviews on books you hav
...more
Kinga
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-1979
I say this is what happened:
Italo Calvino was suffering from a writer's block. He would start a novel, get it to its first curve and abandon it before the resolution. A few months later he would start another with a similar result. Finally, his publishers got impatient because it had been years since the last novel and they said:
'Italo, get your shit together! We need a new book. Now!'
Italo panicked and did the only thing he could think of. He glued all his failed attempts together and delivered
...more
Marvin
Dec 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
I arrived at the library with my two books in hand. As I plunked them down on the check-in counter, a thin matronly woman approached.

"Would you like to check these books in?"

"Yes I would but I would also like to..."

"Oh, I see you read If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino."

"Yes I did. Have you read it too?"

"On starting the first few pages, you were put off by what appears to be a artistic gimmick."

"Why yes a little. but..."

"you soon realized that the author was trying to involve you
...more
Fionnuala
Original review: November 2011
Imagine that it is winter and there is snow everywhere and you can't go out and all you do for days is read book after book, story after story, gorging yourself on fiction until your subconscious is saturated with characters and plots.
Imagine that you fall asleep late one night while reading and you have the cleverest dream ever.
That is what reading this book by Calvino is like.
(I forgot to mention that if you're a woman, in your strange Calvino dream, you will m
...more
Jim Fonseca
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: italian-authors
An experimental novel. The main character is a reader who can’t finish a book because the print copies are mixed up and he ends up reading first chapters of various novels over and over again. He meets up with a woman who has the same problem and he goes on a search to find the rest of the book for both of them. Actually there are two women, sisters, who have different ideas about books and what the purpose of reading is. They appear in different guises throughout the story. The narrative is lab ...more
Gaurav
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Postmodern Literature- Metafiction
If on a Winter's Night a Traveller

Italo Calvino

Just one word: AWESOME !!


"You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveller. Relax. Let the world around you fade."

The opening line of this unusual book really fades the world around you and immerses you in a mystical, eccentric, surreal world where you are energised right from the scratch to encounter the world which refers to its own existence- something which is unprecedented.






The book is a genius i
...more
Sanjay Gautam
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's one of those books which stands alone and shine like sun. There is nothing quite like it. It's one of its kind. Unique.

There are a few books which you come across where the writing, the prose (so lyrical, and beautiful), makes such an impact that it leaves you completely dazzled, and for a while you are stunned: that, wow! what just happened!; and then you are spellbound, speechless!.

And it is one of those books.

The Writing is magical, hypnotizing! It snares you in its magical net. It ca
...more
Dolors
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who travel at the speed of words
Recommended to Dolors by: Many wise GR friends
Why do you read?
Maybe you want to impress somebody. Libraries are cool, or so they say.
Or you expect to learn something from the books you so carefully select.
Or you merely have a preference for intellectual entertainment and books are considered a smart option to fulfill that purpose.
Or maybe you read to remember all the lives you haven't lived, or that important person who left a permanent track on you, whom you don’t expect to see again, or to delight again in the innocent thrill of being
...more
Fergus
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was young in the 1950’s, the whole family would gather around our ancient rabbit-eared black & white TV when the postwar sensation Perry Como came on.

And every week, he’d start out by singing, ‘Dream along with me - I’m on my way to the Stars!’

That’s sorta like where the magician Calvino sends us, in this bemusing and magical romp through the strawberry fields of our imaginations - and his.

His book is the very stuff dreams are made on!

He uses everything but the kitchen sink as the compon
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
300. Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore = If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler, Italo Calvino

If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler is a 1979 novel by the Italian writer Italo Calvino. The postmodernist narrative, in the form of a frame story, is about the reader trying to read a book called If On A Winter's Night A Traveler.

Each chapter is divided into two sections. The first section of each chapter is in second person, and describes the process the reader goes through to attempt to read the next c
...more
Lisa
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If, on a summer's morning, a teacher ventured to explain why she loved this novel so much, she would probably end up with an incomplete sentence, leading to a tangle of thoughts strongly opposed to being untangled for fear of losing their beautiful chaotic pattern ...

If on a summer's day, a teacher got sidetracked and started explaining the charm of multiple beginnings, comparing them to the loose ends in life stories, she would probably lose her students to dreams, and they would drift and tan
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Previously Unpublished Manuscript #1

Who am I? Who is I? Who is the I?

Unlike my friends and colleagues, Professors Calvino and Galligani, I intend to tell you my name and perhaps to reveal something of my modus operandi (soon, too).

This one sentence might already have supplied enough information or implication to let you work out or infer who I am?

Have you guessed yet? No? Well, my name is Professor Uzzi-Tuzii, though my friends call me Julian. Not only is that my name, but that is who I am.

Yes.
...more
Cecily
I rather enjoy that sense of bewilderment a novel gives you when you start reading it.

[ 1 ]

“You are about to begin reading” Cecily’s review of her first Calvino. “Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on… Find the most comfortable position… Adjust the light so you won’t strain your eyes… Try to foresee now everything that might make you interrupt your reading.” A drink within reach? “Do you have to pee? All right
...more
Aubrey
You are scrolling through the reviews and statuses and various examples of book mongering on Goodreads, eyes lazily wandering in hopes of something that will snatch them and hold them fast in fascination. After several refreshings of the page you see that Aubrey has recently finished and rated "If on a Winter's Night a Traveler', which means that a review will not be long in coming, as Aubrey is not the type to carefully compose and coordinate a review for more than a day, often submitting words ...more
Manny
You gaze, confounded, at your laptop, vainly trying to find a way to review this so-called novel, which you, an anglophone, have perversely read in French, not the native language either of yourself or of the author. Your companion notices your perplexity and tries to help, or, possibly, to confuse you further.

"It's beautifully written," she says. "But it has no heart."

"Mais chère Lectrice, how do you know?" you ask. "You have read If on a winter's night, a traveller, while I have read Si par un
...more
Seemita
Imagination, Winged

Push me not, not right now,
Frozen feet is all I have;
Shine me not, not right now,
Calming dark is all I have;
Correct me not, not right now,
Impelling doubt is all I have;
Wake me not, not right now,
Breathing dream is all I have.

Long ago, when I jotted down this poem, I was amidst a whirlwind of events: my final year exams were impending, my heartache was fresh, my best friend had left the city and my muscle tear was repaired but still throbbed a bit. So, I had little to rejoi
...more
Kalliope
I have not finished the book but it does not matter. I can post my review already.

You are wondering whether to phone the police to remove Mark Nicholls from your house. You are deeply confused as to why this reviewer whose opinions you find facile and banal is suddenly sitting naked on your couch reading the very book you were reading about,” he says. You look for a blunt instrument to hit him with, but can find only a cup. You throw the cup, but he ducks and it breaks against the wall. Then Gar
...more
Garima
Well,I am not here to review this book but since that’s the only option available here so I can’t help it. I have nothing new or different to say that hasn’t been said earlier and neither am I one of those seasoned reviewers on GR that other members look forward to read their views on a particular book (OK! Enough of self-pity).

I mean come on, Calvino didn’t write this novel (or antinovel, like I read somewhere) so that some random reader would read this epic book and dare to have an opinion. H
...more
Chloe
Dec 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
I can not think of a book that has let me down more than Italo Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveler. Admittedly, this may have been caused by in no small part by my high expectations for this novel after having read the deliriously exciting first chapter several times in a bookstore during one of those quite regular hunts for the next book to steal my heart. I mean, who can resist a first chapter that contains paragraphs like:

"In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with
...more
Luís C.
How to write and how to describe this novel?
If I had 1 / 10th the talent of Italo Calvino will be easy.
This is the story of a male and a female reader, have in it ten stories in a narrative, is a labyrinth where I loved losing myself, a journey through the imagination of its author.
This book is tasted, savored, take time, discover the landscape with a thousand faces, kaleidoscope style.
I can not tell you more, you now discover that novel. If a winter's night a traveler Italo Calvino speaks to yo
...more
Paul
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic
Very clever and knowing book that invites parody and a clever review in the same vein; however life is too short. Imagine this is not a review and go and read the book. It is worth reading and is very well structured.
Calvino invites the reader into the books in a very self conscious way to participate and reflect on the nature of reading itself. The book is a series of interlinked incomplete stories held together by the participation of the reader. I found the ending a bit of a let down, but ver
...more
Steve
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Calvino met a muse.
Then he met a metamuse.
But was it all a ruse?

nyehh...

Who am I to disabuse?


I had such grandiose plans for reviewing this book. Then I made the mistake of reading what my luminous Goodreading friends had already said and realized I had no luster to add. I briefly toyed with the idea of a metareview of those reviews, but lacked the energy and time to follow through. Besides, I’ve produced a lot of flab lately and decided to avoid the excess this time. If what you seek is insight,
...more
Samadrita
Putting into exact words all the feelings this book evokes in the reader, is a task not just tremendously challenging but virtually impossible to execute.
After getting through the first few pages, I felt like Naomi Watts in The Ring, being pulled against her will into the world of the creepy video by Samara.
I know that's a rather cheap analogy. Comparing a creation of one of the most accomplished post-modernist writers to have emerged from Europe to a Hollywood version of a Japanese film, is pre
...more
Jan-Maat
This was one of my favourite books. Comfort reading. Fairly sure that I bought this in the early to mid 1990s in Webberleys bookshop in Stoke-on-Trent. It was an old fashioned shop with dark wooden bookshelves that where too close together, so that it was difficult to get round, you had to pick your way and wind about to get to the books you wanted to look at. Great place.

So I went there and picked up the book, carried it home on the long bus ride which seemed to go round most of the five towns
...more
Bradley
I wonder why this is my third Italo Calvino book and want to kick myself. I should have read this first even though his Cosmicomics is more my speed in general. Gaah!

That being said, there's something awesomely lulling and beguiling and downright charming about this book. It reads wonderfully and with such a light touch that you can't help but feel as if you're riding in a giant's careful hand, a soft but omnipresent voice telling you where you're going and what you'll be experiencing and that y
...more
Annie
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015

Calvino called it a hyper-fiction: a book within a book. If on a... is a clever amalgamation of a story within a story within a story; a reader of a book with a reader of a book and other readers. The alchemy of contusions that blurs the physical existence of the reader so he fuses with the reader in print. For who has read a book and then seen the world with stale sight? For to inhale the spirit of the book and to read it afresh is to intake it with renewed senses.


If on a... is a pleasant read

...more
L.S. Popovich
Intrigued by the title, one day I opened this book, didn't get it, put it back, saw it again years later, did the same thing, stumbled upon it again years later with a sense of déjà vu, read no more than a few pages. For some reason, it seemed as impenetrable as Hegel. But the title was stuck in my head like a pop song. That unfinished sentence bothered me, yet I would not play into the gimmick and read it just to find out what the fragment meant. I determined to put it off forever. This was bef ...more
Michael
A delightful romp of two readers on a quest to find fulfillment in books. It felt like a wonderful hybrid of Borges’ compressed imagination, David Mitchell’s broken stories in “The Cloud Atlas”, and Jasper Fforde’s placement of reader sleuths into his farces.

The book got its hooks into me right from the beginning, talking directly to me as the reader entering a bookstore to acquire this new novel by Calvino. So engaging to have me negotiate through a bunch of idiosyncratic book categories. For
...more
Teresa
Jun 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not the kind of person to define myself. Of course, I know I'm a daughter, sister, wife, etc and most importantly, a mother. But besides my relationship to other people, if I'm 'forced' to think about what defines me, what I know I've always been, as far back as I can remember, is a Reader. And if you are the same, then, like me, you will feel that Calvino is speaking to you -- you are his You.

I can't say there weren't very brief times when my attention wandered during one of the stories tha
...more
Darwin8u
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
A slick trick and trap of a novel, a complex story of cogs and frames. Narrators and readers collide and disappear. Styles float by (are experimented on) and are quickly replaced by other metafictional techniques. Anyway, I'm going to need more time and more sleep to absorb this book, but I'm not sure how anyone after first reading it could dislike the spirit, creativity, and absolute panache (yeah, I'll edit out panache tomorrow) of this novel.
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Goodreads Librari...: Corrections, additions 1 10 Dec 14, 2018 12:00PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add/correction 5 17 Nov 17, 2018 09:04AM  
Italo Calvino 19 134 Aug 31, 2018 02:50PM  
Reading Challenges: 2°GdL.Apr-Mag'18-Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore di Italo Calvino 50 58 Jun 06, 2018 12:20PM  
Catching up on Cl...: If on a Winter's Night a Traveler - SPOILERS 41 109 Mar 27, 2018 08:38AM  

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5,794 followers
Italo Calvino was born in Cuba and grew up in Italy. He was a journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952-1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If On a Winter's Night a Traveler (1979).

His style is not easy to classify; much of his writing has an air reminiscent to th
...more

Articles featuring this book

Calling all bibliophiles! What better way to celebrate the joy of reading than with a book about, well, books? To create this list, we took...
211 likes · 62 comments
“Sections in the bookstore

- Books You Haven't Read
- Books You Needn't Read
- Books Made for Purposes Other Than Reading
- Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong to the Category of Books Read Before Being Written
- Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered
- Books You Mean to Read But There Are Others You Must Read First
- Books Too Expensive Now and You'll Wait 'Til They're Remaindered
- Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback
- Books You Can Borrow from Somebody
- Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too
- Books You've Been Planning to Read for Ages
- Books You've Been Hunting for Years Without Success
- Books Dealing with Something You're Working on at the Moment
- Books You Want to Own So They'll Be Handy Just in Case
- Books You Could Put Aside Maybe to Read This Summer
- Books You Need to Go with Other Books on Your Shelves
- Books That Fill You with Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified
- Books Read Long Ago Which It's Now Time to Re-read
- Books You've Always Pretended to Have Read and Now It's Time to Sit Down and Really Read Them”
1822 likes
“In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven't Read, which are frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you...And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You'll Wait Till They're Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too. ” 473 likes
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