With his creation of the "Father of Stories", an old blind man (intentionally reminiscent of Homer) who tells stories continuously, Italo Calvino also discusses the notion of a single source for all texts. In his novelIf On a Winter's Night a Traveler he too presents the notion that there could be a common thread by which every text ever written is linked in its essence. However, Calvino makes an important distinction not present in Novalis' ideas (or Derrida's, by extension)--the "universal source of narrative material" is not the act of writing, nor even a written text, but an oral history pronounced by the Father of Stories. Thus Calvino, by creating one man who speaks stories which will eventually be written by famous writers, locates the "primordial magma from which the individual manifestations of each writer develop" not in writing but in language, in speech. And since language cannot even be the proper term due to differing languages between the great writers, this source is ultimately the act of speech, the most basic process of verbal communication.
Indeed, Calvino's entire novel actually represents this appropriation of the universal source of stories. The novel begins with the monologue, whether of the "narrator" or "author", urging the reader to relax and concentrate--an oral statement represented in written words. From this first chapter, numerous stories spring forth--not just the first chapter of every "new" book, but the stories of the two readers, of Ermes Marana, of Silas Flannery...the list continues. And yet the reader continues, does not get discouraged or completely lost, still retains the sense that the "story" or "plot" is progressing. Calvino has managed to display precisely how diverse and varying stories could all be linked back to a unifying, underlying narrative voice.
textual unity intro