LITERATURE: Up Next: If on a winter’s night a traveler

I’d read Chapter 1 of this about a month ago when I thought I couldn’t make it through Miller’s Topic of Cancer.  I put it aside when my stubborn nature wouldn’t let me give up on Miller. Tonight I read Chapter 1 again.

This is definitely going to be an interesting journey since these first pages tell the reader–in second person pov–exactly how to prepare to read this book ‘you’ have just bought.  There is an intimacy in third person, because it assumes it knows the reader well–and that’s every reader!  Some people just don’t take to second person.  For one thing, it must suit to a certain degree, even if fantasy where it must be a desirable fantasy.  Anything the character ‘you’ does, must feel comfortable in the reader’s mind to slip into the role.

Oddly, to me, first person makes me just as uncomfortable for the same reason.  While the first person is taken to be someone other than the reader, as we are used to reading a letter from someone else written as ‘I’, if read aloud, I as the speaker become the I of the story and that’s an intimate position similar to the ‘you’ of third.  Again, reading ‘you’ changes with perspective.

But Italo Calvino has more up his sleeve than the I/you pov; by the next chapter he puts us into third.

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3 Responses to LITERATURE: Up Next: If on a winter’s night a traveler

  1. Lisa Kenney says:

    I don’t think you finished posting the title! Is it, IF, ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER?

    I hope so — I’m anxious to hear what you think. I liked it a lot.

  2. susan says:

    That’s it, Lisa! Thanks for pointing it out–it was actually an unclosed italic tag that hid the title.

    I’m liking it a lot so far and I hope you join in on the talk.

  3. Lisa Kenney says:

    You couldn’t keep me away. I loved the way the first chapter came right at me. I especially loved the way he talked about books — books we’ve read, books we want people to think we’ve read — I think the 2nd person initially hit me as a little surprising and disorienting, but I loved the narrator and so I settled right into it.

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