Excerpt from If on a winter's night a traveler
Who you are, Reader, your age, your status, profession, income: that would
be indiscreet to ask. It's your business, you're on your own. What counts
is the state of your spirit now, in the privacy of your home, as you try
to re-establish perfect calm in order to sink again into the book; you stretch
out your legs, you draw them back, you stretch them again. But something
has changed since yesterday. Your reading is no longer solitary: you think
of the other reader, who, at this same moment, is also opening the book;
and there, the novel to be read is superimposed by a possible novel to be
lived, the continuation of your story with her, or better still, the beginning
of a possible story. This is how you changed since yesterday, you who insisted
you preferred a book, something solid, which lies before you, easily defined,
enjoyed without risks, to a real-life experience, always elusive, discontinuous,
debated. Does this mean that the book has become an instrument, a channel
of communication, a rendezvous? This does not mean its reading will grip
you less: on the contrary, something has been added to its power.
This volume's pages are uncut: a first obstacle opposing your impatience.
Armed with a good paper knife, you prepare to penetrate its secrets. With
a determined slash you cut your way between the title page and the beginning
of the first chapter. And then...
Then from the very first page you realize that the novel you are holding
has nothing to do with the one you were reading
Calvino, p. 32