Even if you knew the language you wouldn’t recognize the book: Italo Calvino’s post-compositional diagram for If on a winter’s night a traveler

I had wanted to start reading Italo Calvino, but wasn’t sure where to start. I found out that my wife had Invisible Cities, so I jumped in there. Cities easily won me over. Soon after everyone was telling me to read If on a winter’s night a traveler. I checked it out from the library, and read about two pages before I stopped. Not because I didn’t like it, but because I knew I wanted my own copy to write in.

In the meantime, I watched an interview with him where he mentioned a chart he constructed after he wrote the book. I’m a sucker for these kinds of diagrams and graphs. It all started with that Ulysses chart. I found Calvino’s, but only in Italian.

I couldn’t find a translation and as a high school teacher, I didn’t always have access to journals or academic books that may have a translation of it. So I decided to attempt it myself. I had the Latin teacher look over it for me (Thanks Mr. Welle!), since he had not only recommended the book to me, but also had actually read it in Italian. So below is the chart, which I’ve finally diagrammed after translating it about four or five years ago. All mistakes are mine.

I finally read the novel recently and adored it. I’m hoping to write a little about it soon.

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