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(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
Introduction by Peter Washington; Translation by William Weaver
Italo Calvino’s masterpiece combines a love story and a detective story into an exhilarating allegory of reading, in which the reader of the book becomes the book’s central character.
Based on a witty analogy between the reader’s desire to finish the story and the lover’s desire to consummate his or her passion, IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER is the tale of two bemused readers whose attempts to reach the end of the same book—IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER, by Italo Calvino, of course—are constantly and comically frustrated. In between chasing missing chapters of the book, the hapless readers tangle with an international conspiracy, a rogue translator, an elusive novelist, a disintegrating publishing house, and several oppressive governments. The result is a literary labyrinth of storylines that interrupt one another—an Arabian Nights of the postmodern age.
“[Italo Calvino is] one of the world’s best fabulists.”
—John Gardner, NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
“Calvino is a wizard.”
—Mary McCarthy, NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS
“[Calvino] manages to charm and entertain the reader in the teeth of a scheme designed to frustrate all reasonable readerly expectations.”
—John Updike, THE NEW YORKER
“Calvino is that very rare phenomenon, a true original . . . If on a winter’s night a traveler is breathtakingly complex and self-conscious (there are moments when it quite literally makes one gasp with astonishment) . . . [yet it] is one of the most accessible and enchanting novels written in the last fifty years.”
—from the Introduction by Peter Washington