The Worlds of Italo Calvino

"A painful fear of misunderstanding emerges from these elusive fragments of stories, these elusive characters, and the highly artificial structures Calvino contrives to hold them together. That fear is offset in “Invisible Cities” and “The Castle of Crossed Destinies” by Calvino’s utopianism—his sincere belief in a time and a place in which the novel’s dream images of love and justice can be made real and shared, despite the anomie of mankind. "

"The book that gives us Calvino the romantic and Calvino the craftsman in equal measure is 'If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler.' It is the book that makes people fall in love with Calvino, because it is a book about falling in love through reading—specifically, 'reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler.'"

"“If on a Winter’s Night,” despite its mingling of irony and earnestness, does not imagine the love between readers as a first love or even a young love. The choice that you, the Reader, make of which book to read, or which lover to take, occurs in relation to all the other books you have read, or all the other people you have loved. They lead you to an appreciation of this particular member of a genre, or species. This is the negotiation on which judgment—of books, of people—turns. The effect is not to diminish one’s feelings by subjecting them to the language of classification. It is to expand love’s purview to many different objects, or different people. "