Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler
A look at the nature of narrative in Calvino’s novel.
This essay looks at how Calvino views the nature of narrative in the novel If on a winters night a traveler and how his intentions can be both serious and satirical. The paper explores the narrative devices that Calvino uses in his novel, and his lack of adherence to generic and narrative conventions. The paper also looks at the demystification of the notion of authority and authorship in the novel, and cites in this subject Roland Barthe’s “Death of an Author.”
“In Alan Haspel’s essay Calvino’s Fairy-tale, he states that ‘The didactic beginning of this novel is a mechanism Calvino utilises to ensure the reader that a fantastic, adventurous story is about to begin’. This is true to a certain extent as it does help build up suspense but I feel that the main reason Calvino uses this style is to parody the words of a storyteller reading to a young child. I think that this is his way of mocking both, the storyteller role of the writer, and the position of the innocent reader who has just picked up the book. Calvino begins the novel by speaking to the reader in a patronizing tone, as if to a child. Calvino has comic intentions because he uses an intrusive and knowing tone to satirize the authority that other writers feel they have. On the other hand Calvino’s intentions could be serious and the tone could be seen as conversational, a way of helping the reader to become more engaged in the novel. The storyteller beginning is a great contrast to the complex, psychological nature of the last few stories. This represents the way in which the reader develops through reading the novel.”