I submit to you, dear reader, a collection of 10 book covers for the fictional novels, fragments, manuscripts, and fraudulent translations that appear in Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveller–a book which is also a library.
These are actual covers to various editions of the Calvino book which have been photoshopped to feature the titles and authors of the fictional books he describes, including his own; hence the first cover, which might look like a faithful reproduction of an actual book cover, but like the rest it features a blurb which is in fact a quotation from the character, Ludmilla. In each section preceding the novel fragments, she describes her ideal novel. As you follows the protagonist in his readings of various books which always get interrupted, you start to notice that the style of each book was prefigured in the comment by Ludmilla. It isn’t a criticism to say that If on a winter’s night a traveller is contrived. It takes great pleasure in its own contrivance. Chapters of second person narration about the “reader” the “other reader” and a shady character dedicated falsifying books, are each followed by the beginning of a novel that the reader will not get to finish (neither you-the-real-reader nor “you”-the-protagonist) . One of the novels-within-a-novel describes a 17th century device called a polydyptic theatre “in which about sixty little mirrors lining the inside of a large box transform a bough into a forest, a lead soldier into an army, a booklet into a library.” This is just one of many metaphors for the book itself. This is a metafictional novel that seeks out the universal story, or perhaps just the universal story of reading fiction. I offer these covers to you, but also to the late Mr. Calvino, who was both a great lover of books in their complete semantic, social, and physical dimensions, and a man whose mental habits seem to tend towards autism. As I spent hours on the computer altering his covers and mimicking (often poorly) their fonts, I felt I was performing a small tribute to a man for whom I feel a close affinity.
Your task, dear reader, is to create an image of an object described by any text. As always, provide an explanatory note if necessary.
For an alternative assignment, submit any of your own notes, diagrams, etc, on this text in particular.
Here are the original covers, including a couple extra ones I didn’t use.