Metafiction and A Winter’s Night

Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler require true participation of the reader. The reader’s response is crucial, the author’s voice is lost. The reader is the focus and the writer is not. The reader becomes a part of the fiction as a character. Calvino (or the author) does control the novel, and he focuses on the reader’s point of view. The author has the power to make it seem like the the reader is in control of the fiction. However, the author is truly in control of the reader’s destiny, the fiction versus reality puts the reader in the novel’s world, not the author’s world. Calvino sets the stage in the first line, “let the world around you fade” (Calvino, 1). The reader is sent out of reality and into the novel right from the start.

10 different short stories are told to us. These are narratives within narratives. The novel is about an internal reader reading a book. The book being read is the book in the external reader’s hand. Calvino describes their journey/experience with that (or this) book (and others). These narratives within narratives are not traditionally linear. They are split up. Yes, the stories move on from one to another, but they can also move backwards, and out of order, while still intersecting.  This is part of Calvino’s craft. Is the internal reader’s journey with the book fiction, or is it reality because the external reader is going through the story within their mind? Or is it reality because the internal reader is the external reader of this book? Calvino certainly creates thought and confusion through the use of metafiction and the intersecting levels/layers that conflict within my own mind.

Obviously, Calvino does a great job with fiction and reality. This was one of my first introduction to metafiction. It reminded me of the “Choose Your Own Adventure Stories” that I read during my elementary years. The protagonist “I” is considered the internal and external reader. The external reader has to interpret from the writer where the internal reader goes in the text and why. The novel’s levels often made me ask, where am I in this narrative right now? Who am I in this narrative? Calvino plays so deeply with metafiction that reality and fiction are often questioned within the text.

With all of this metafictional talk, this is a love story! The internal reader marries a different reader at the end of the text. I read the story, Calvino is the writer of the story, and I interact with Calvino through this metafiction as I become his character and go along for the ride.



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