Italo Calvino as Author/Game-master in If On a Winter's Night a Traveler

Italo Calvino as Author/Game-master in If On a Winter's Night a Traveler

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Italo Calvino as Author/Game-master in If On a Winter's Night a Traveler


In an interview conducted in January 1978, one year before the publication of his novel If on a winter's night a traveler (Iown), Italo Calvino responded to a question about his future writing plans with these words: "What I keep open is fiction, a storytelling that is lively and inventive, as well as the more reflective kind of writing in which narrative and essay become one" (Calvino, Hermit in Paris 190). Calvino created this very type of fiction in Iown, a novel that consists of a metafictional narrative that frames the beginnings of ten unique novels. This type of structure allows Calvino to satisfy his needs as a storyteller, and at the same time it allows him the opportunity to insert his own thoughts and opinions on theories of reading and writing. Ultimately we have the sense that this is a novel where Calvino is in total authorial control, not only in the sense that he controls the characters, the plot, the structure of the novel, etc., but also in the sense that he controls us as readers of the novel. He does so by creating a novel that is a game, complete with virtual reality-like settings where his characters act out their adventures with seemingly little control over their own destinies. Calvino acts as the ultimate game-creator/game-master who controls both the characters he creates and the real players of this game-like novel, the readers. As readers we become caught up in Calvino's playful language and his narrative tricks, but on another level we are subject to Calvino's metafictional discourse. As the true readers of Iown we cannot ignore the sections of the novel that deal with aspects of writing, authorship, and publishing in ways th...


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...'Ombra lunga dell'autore], trans. William Hanley (Milano: Feltrinelli, 1999). http://www.public.asu.edu/~dgilfill/texts/benedetti.shtml.

Calvino, Italo. Hermit in Paris. (New York: Pantheon, 2003).

- - - -. If on a winter's night a traveler, trans. William Weaver. (San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1981).

Carter, Albert Howard III. "If on a winter's night a traveler: Fantasy and Reading." Italo Calvino: Metamorphoses of Fantasy. (Ann Arbor: UMI, 1987) 125-137.

Cotrupi, C. Nella. "Hypermetafiction: Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler." Style. Vol.25:2 (Summer 1991): 280-292.

Fink, I. "The Power Behind the Pronoun: Narrative Games in Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler." Twentieth Century Literature. Vol.37:1 (Spring 1991): 93-105.

Waugh, Patricia. Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Concious Fiction. (London: Methuen, 1984).

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