If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller

At the start of If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino the novel’s main character (addressed throughout as ‘you’) prepares to read a new book by Italo Calvino called If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller. But, through a series of misprints, mishaps and misadventures, he finds himself starting to read a sequence of quite different books, in widely diverging genres and styles, the first chapters of which make up the even-numbered chapters of the novel. In the odd-numbered chapters, a more or less conventional narrative unfolds, part love story and part detective thriller. For all its experimentalism, If on a Winter’s Night is a thoroughly engaging book, reminiscent at times of Tristram Shandy, and is widely regarded as Calvino’s masterpiece.

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