Monday, November 14, 2011

Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore


Sometimes you need to give a book a second chance, just like anything else.  When I first read 'If on a Winter's Night a Traveller,' it was the middle of the summer in Rhode Island.  With good reason I had a hard time getting through it.  In fact it lay unfinished on my shelf for years.  Now that I'm here in Italy, in country that at this very moment has no government, the book couldn't be more perfect.  This book celebrates the reader, reading, books and everything exciting about the written word.  It also celebrates the confusion of living in Italy.  'You' the reader find a book, but unfortunately after finishing it's first chapter realize it's unfinished.  When you start another, that book also changes after the first gripping chapter.  And so on and so on.  Confusing?  Of course, but Calvino so brilliantly writes 10 first chapters in completely different styles, each capturing you in it's pages.  I think I appreciated it so much because it reminded me of everyday life here.  For everything thing you apply for, with seemingly perfect papers in hand, always leads to a chase for something missing.  I really loved this book, and as my friend Anzie is proof, you don't need to be in Italy to love it...but it helps.

A nice quote about the joy of reading, for you dear readers always stuck in a book:

In other words, it's better for you to restrain your impatience and wait to open the book at home.  Now. Yes, you are in your room, calm; you open the book to page one, no, to the last page, first you want to see how long it is.  It's not too long, fortunately.  Long novels written today are perhaps a contradiction: the dimension of time has been shattered, we cannot love or think except in fragments of time each of which goes off along in its own tragectory and immediately disappears.

4 comments:

Laurent said...

My experience resembles yours, which I take to be a triumph of the book and not a coincidence. I acquired it when it was translated into English (and hit the pavement of publishing with a great éclat), and suffered with it ambivalently for some time. Years later, when his posthumous "Why we read the classics" came out, I returned to it with ease, and his "Invisible Cities" plainly helped considerably. But this is the best comment on the book I've ever seen.

The verification word for this comment is "Marat." How revolutionary you are, D-H.

Jen said...

I too, put this book down before finishing, the first time I read it. You have inspired me to pick it up again. I just returned from a trip to Italy, and hope that experience will give me a bit of insight as I read.

StuckInABook said...

Readers stuck in a book, you say? C'est moi! I did buy this a while ago, after a blurry of online reviews intrigued me, but haven't even opened it yet...

Monica said...

thanks for the review, you've intrigued me an i'm on goodreads now... searching and bookmarking it.