Italo Calvino's novel If on a winter's night a traveler

It seems good, but I can’t seem to get past the first chapter…:wink:

Seriously, a professor tells me that On the carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon is a parody of a Japanese novel, The Key, and Around an empty grave parodies 100 Years of Solitude. (Haven’t read either.) Does anyone know if the other incipets are parodies of other works? Does anyone have the slightest clue what I’m talking about? (If not, why did you read this thread?)

“incipit”, right? (The beginning or opening words of the text of a medieval manuscript or early printed book). I echo the Calvino sentiment - I’ve had it for 6 years and read that first chapter more times than I remember!

I must admit to being sceptical about your professor’s comment, but I soon discovered a previously unknown world of literary weird. The scary thing is, I’ve read a lot of these and now they really make sense. Time to put a wet towel on my head…

I won’t spoil the discovery for viewers, but follow the link

On a carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon is by Takakumi Ikoka and is the pseudo from If on a winter’s night…

*Around an empty grave * is by Calixto Bandera and is also from If on a winter’s night….

There are a lot more pseudos from the Calvino novel - for details.

However, neither the reference to “The Key” or “One hundred years of solitude” checked out. I could well be missing something here, or else your prof has it mixed up a bit.

Lion Killer

Three people have heard of this book. Only one of them has read it all the way through. I dunno whether I should boast or have people lock up their children.

To be honest with you, I read it on my own years ago and don’t know whether the incipits are parodies of other novels or not. I’ll have to find another copy and see if there are any forewords or introductions to the novel.

In any case, I liked Cosmicomics and Mr. Palomar much better.


I did mean “incipits.”

I haven’t finished the book yet, but I was joking about not getting past the first chapter. To understand it, read the first page of the third chapter, “chapter two.” (The chapters in the book are alternately nubered and titled, so the first chapter, labeled “chapter one” is followed by the chapter If on a winter’s night a traveler, then “chapter two”.)

I won’t post spoilers for the book unless someone asks, but I will explain that it is a very strange novel that plays with readers’ expectations and the usual logic of novels. The professor teaching this book is a Math professor (he just likes the novel), if that gives you any idea. It is full of recursions, self-reference, and beginings without endings (characterized by the “incipits”, or incomplete starts of other, unreal novels that make up the titled chapters. It’s also written mostly in second person, even though it’s really about someone else. Lots of fun if you’re the sort of person who thinks Godel, Escher, Bach is recreational reading.

bwanasimba, I’m not sure what the point of the Invisible Library is, since it doesn’t give much information about the pseudo-novels. I wouldn’t expect it to sy whether they are parodies of other works.

Olentzero, ther are no introductions in my copy (Harcourt Brace paperback, translated by William Weaver) besides the first chapter.

I have read it all the way through and, while I enjoyed it greatly, found it very frustrating. Every time I started a new “story”, I swore to myself I wouldn’t get hooked, but each time the end of the chapter found me wanted to read on. Damn him, anyhow. :slight_smile:

You haven’t been digging around in there deep enough. Take a little time to explore, it’s worth it. I got plenty of gems just from 5 minutes of poking around.

<sigh> I’m going to feel like an idiot when you point out what it is I’m missing there.

As luck would have it, I happen to have If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler and Kagi (The Key) here on my desk at work (no, I’m marketing. Don’t ask).

I can’t really say if Calvino was parodying Tanizaki, but the styles are similar (although since both are translations (William Weaver and Howard Hibbett, respectively) this could just be coincidence) and the subjects are very much alike (older man using wife/daughter seduction to trap younger man vs. older man using daughter to use younger man to seduce wife). It seems pretty likely, though, that Calvino was at least aware of The Key.

I guess this doesn’t really answer your question. Sorry. In any case, I highly recommend both books (I’ll have to look for 100 Years of Solitude now).


hi everyone. Thanks for the name of the other book, Kagi, I’ll look it up.

Another “book within a book” and one of the best books I have read is Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World written by Haruki Murakami and translated by Alfred Birnbaum (the guy’s a genius). Especially rich for those who have lived in Japan.

It’s a long url, but worth it.

Lion Killer