Italo Calvino, a famous Italian writer, is famous for his eccentricity in writing, as he is able to invent conceptually new forms of plot development. “If on a winter’s night a traveler” (1981) to great extent reflects Calvino’s unique and independent style, which allows him mixing different genres, this mixture can be finally categorized as a work of bricoleur. The canonical genres, used in the book, are: short story, fantasy novel, essay, mystery novel and epistolary novel.
It contains the properties of bricoleur, as the writing describes the events, happening to the reader, so that they automatically become the protagonist of the story. Speaking about genres, it is important to note, first and foremost, that the book consists of more than twenty short stories, which might have different plots and characters. “The passages concern events purportedly happening to the novel’s reader. These chapters concern the reader’s adventures in reading Italo Calvino’s novel “If on a winter’s night a traveler”.
Eventually, the reader meets a woman, who is also addressed in her own chapter, separately, also in the second person” (Carleton, 2005, p. 321). The stories, although include different characters, nevertheless compose the general plot of the novel, the reader’s adventures. The stories touch different themes – from family conflicts to conflicts with law and magic – for instance, one story narrates about the police state, another one jumps to describing the fate of the person, who is able to make material objects disappear.
The first chapter of the novel is very similar to division and classification essay, as it describes the styles of reading books (some individuals tend to read in bus, others at the wheel of their car and so forth) as well as the types of books individuals face in their life: “The Books You’ve Been Planning to Read For Ages; The Books You’ve Been Hunting For Years Without Success; The Books Dealing With Something You’re Working On At The Moment.. ” (Calvino, 1981, at http://www. italo-calvino. com/ifon. htm).
For me, the author simply convinces that people are different and thus tries to categorize their habits, lifestyles so that the reader necessarily finds themselves in this array of human qualities, preferences and traits. The author also provides different versions of situations the reader faces when they go to the library or bookshop, so the first chapter, “Outside the town of Malbork”, also classifies life experiences. Thus, even through the structure of this part of the book doesn’t clearly refer to division and classification essay, it nevertheless develops different versions and puts category labels.
The writing can also be classified as mystery novel, as it keeps the reader in suspense concerning the development of the plot, as they are supposed to investigate the events that happen directly to them. At the very beginning, there appears a peculiar intrigue, as the protagonist (or the reader) buys a book entitled “If on a winter`s night a traveler” by Calvino and finds that the first 32 pages are repeated again and again. It becomes clear that the Reader has taken a wrong book, a Polish novel, but he seeks to continue reading.
“In that case, the Reader decides, he doesn’t care about the Calvino, he wants the Polish book, since that’s one he’s started. He also meets a young woman (Ludmilla: “huge, swift eyes, complexion of good tone and good pigment, a richly waved haze of hair”) who has run into the same problem and has similarly decided to take the Polish novel” (Carleton, 2005, p. 322). The mystery travels from one fragment to another; it is transmitted from chapter to chapter and involves revolutionaries, secret services and computer hackers.
Thus, Calvino’s Reader experiences romance and adventures, whereas the actual reader remains in suspense concerning the explanation of the mystery, or answer to the question why actually they are the protagonist. In addition, Calvino’s writing is also a fantasy novel, as the author actually invents the Reader. Calvino “plays with conventional narrative expectations and seems to thumb his nose at literary artifice while employing a supremely artificial technique to do so” (Carleton, 2005, p. 322).
For instance, the author tends to mix temporal and spatial and develops the actual reader’s imagination. The writer himself describes his novel in the following way: “ The novel I would most like to read at this moment…should have as its driving force only the desire to narrate, to pile stories upon stories, without trying to impose a philosophy of life on you” (Calvino, 1981, p. 92). The author mixes plots and brings the reader into different places like Japan, Latin America, Europe as well as into absolutely imaginary states.
Due to the fact that the major idea of the novel is bringing the pleasure of reading to the reader, it easy to understand the surrealism, which saturates the novel. In addition, the reality, created by Calvino, includes another important component: the characters approach to literature with practically the same principle, clearly articulated by Irnerio: “I may have had to make some effort myself, at first to learn not to read, but now it comes quite naturally to me. The secret is not refusing the written words. On the contrary, you must look at them, intensely, until they disappear” (Calvino, 1981, p. 49).
The author thus implies the intrinsic value, or self-value of the printed word, whereas it seems to some extent absurd to the modern reader, who seeks to find senses and meaning in writings. Finally, the author uses epistolary genre and addressed the narrative to the reader, as he uses the second person. As one knows, this genre normally involves giving information about the events from the author’s own life, but this epistle is unique, as the above stated principle is reflected in the mirror-like manner: the author provides information about the events from the reader’s life.
Calvino tries to guess the reader’s habits and uses imagination to describe his personality: “You’re a sort of person, who, on principle, no longer expects anything of anything. There are plenty, younger or less young, who live in the expectation of extraordinary experiences: from books, from people, from journeys, from events, from what tomorrow has in store. But not you. You know that the best you can expect is to avoid the worst” (Calvino, 1981, at http://www. italo-calvino. com/ifon. htm).
Addressing such claims to the reader, the author actually covers both audiences – optimists and pessimists (even though he states that the reader doesn’t expect anything of life any longer), as the pessimist is likely to proceed with the book once they read true about themselves, whereas the optimist is likely to recollect the situations in which they acted like pessimists. Epistle thus can also be viewed as a psychological maneuver that helps the reader relax, dive into the plot and become a bricoleur.