Saturday, February 15, 2014

If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino, Revisited

To understand my initial decision not to finish Calvino's novel, see Part I.


I sat down for two quiet hours to finish Great Expectations; however, Calvino's novel beckoned me to finish it. There were only four or five short chapters remaining, and while I still yearned for character appeal and connection, and found the sub-stories a little dull for my interest, I told myself that at least I could skip over the explicit narratives.  Frankly, I just wanted to finish what I had started.

In a few minutes, it was done, and I am glad to have completed it.  The novel was not as awful as I had initially posted. Within the final chapters, I underlined many essential ideas about reading, which is a major point of this novel.

Here are some concepts about reading and rereading experiences that several readers in the story share among themselves inside of a library:
Reading is a discontinuous and fragmentary operation.  
This is why my reading has no end: I read and reread, each time seeking the confirmation of a new discovery among the folds of the sentences. 
...but at every rereading I seem to be reading a new book, for the first time.  Is it I who keep changing and seeing new things of which I was not previously aware
Every time I seek to relive the emotion of a previous reading, I experience different and unexpected impressions, and do not find again those of before
...reading is an operation without object; or that its true object is itself.  The book is an accessory aid, or even a pretext.
Every new book I read comes to be a part of that overall and unitary book that is the sum of my readings.
The moment that counts  most for me is the one that precedes reading.   I require even less: the promise of reading is enough.

In a final declaration, a reader states,
Do you believe that every story must have a beginning and an end?  In ancient times a story could end only in two ways: having passed all the tests, the hero and the heroine married, or else they died.  The ultimate meaning to which all stories refer has two faces: the continuity of life, the inevitability of death.
How many of these ideas can we relate to?  How many are we familiar with? How many of these reading experiences have we lived already?  I can answer positively to several of them.

In this regard, I like If on a winter's night a traveler because I am familiar with the experience.  I will leave it at that and let it sink in.  And I'll say no more about it.

1 comment:

  1. I do plan to finish it too at some point. I have too many read-alongs and scheduled books to give any time to it now, but perhaps I can fit it in in April.

    I'm glad it turned out better than you suspected and you were able to get something positive out of it!

    ReplyDelete