In If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, Calvino presents the scribe Abdullah, he who put into written form (the Koran) Mohammed's prophetic words. Calvino tells the story of Abdullah's loss of faith in Mohammed because he allowed his scribe to finish a sentence for him. But Calvino attacks Abdullah's lost faith. He vests in Abdullah not the power of prophecy, but of writing--and seems to set them as equal in status. Here Calvino agains return to an oral source of all written texts--yet rather than announcing the death of the author contradicts this notion. He notes that while it is true that most of the words in the Koran are Mohammed's--or at least, most of the ideas--it was Abdullah's job to confine these ideas in written words, into sentences, into a form comprehensible for all. In the same way that I have carefully located and placed the ideas and words of others within my document, so must Abdullah provide a frame in which Mohammed's (actually Allah's) words can be viewed. Thus, while perhaps Abdullah is not an author in the sense of creator and originator of each idea in the Koran, nonetheless his hand can be seen in the creation of the Holy Book, in the written language for which he and he alone was responsible.

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