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If on a winter night... essay

If on a winter night... essay - Watch out it is surely a...

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“Watch out: it is surely a method of involving you gradually, capturing you in the story before you realize it – a trap.” - If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (12) If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler is like a game. Even the title is playful. A fragment, the title leads the reader on. It gives the reader a sense of direction, and seems to allow the reader to assume the direction of the novel. At the same time however, the title is restrained. As if the author is holding information from the reader, and nudging him to try and discover the second part of the title. This feeling of both reader control and a sense of missing information is prevalent throughout the novel. Calvino strategically employs different literary devices to instill a feeling of closeness between the reader and the novel. On the other hand, Calvino constantly reminds the reader that the author is in control. For example, at the beginning of the novel, Calvino immediately addresses the reader. “You” are about to begin reading his book, and through this first line, he attempts to draw you into the book not just as the reader, but as a participant in the novel. Calvino employs the second person to empower the reader by reminding him that he does not have to read the novel. Later however, Calvino strips the reader of his power through various literary devices such as the manipulation of pronouns and the structure of the short stories embedded in the novel. This mind game, the granting and taking of the reader’s power serves to keep the reader drawn to the novel. In Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler , Calvino utilizes various literary devices to oscillate the reader’s control over the novel and keep the reader engaged. Calvino manipulates pronouns and addresses the reader to create the oscillation between the reader’s sense of control and lack thereof. Calvino’s mind game wastes no time manipulating the
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reader. The book begins with Calvino approaching us, the reader, and addressing us as “you”. Calvino reminds us that we are reading his new novel. He introduces himself as the real author, which sets the tone of the book as self-reflective. Calvino addresses us and comments on the environment we are reading the book in, telling us to “let the world around [us] fade” and “close the door” (3). Immediately, the reader is assured of his involvement in the novel and assumes that Calvino is indeed addressing him. Calvino takes away this involvement by the second
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