Calvino, Through Ch 9

Well, this section was certainly a wild ride.

In Chapter 7, the second person point of view shifts so you are now Ludmilla, and we also find out for certain that the narrator (you) is a male. This was pretty obviously from early on in the book, but I found myself identifying less and less with the narrator as the book went on, especially in the scenes with Ludmilla. It’s interesting to try and put myself into the perspective of a male, but it also alienates female readers in a way.

Although I thought Silas Flannery’s section in Chapter 8 was going to be boring, this was actually one of the most interesting parts of these few chapters. He talked a lot about the challenges of being a writer:

“I am unable to write if there is someone watching me: I feel that what I am writing does not belong to me any more.” (Calvino 171)

I feel the same way as Flannery when I write. When I’m in class, I find it harder to concentrate on what I am writing, and I feel more confident in my writing when I’m alone with no one to see what I am creating. Flannery also talked about a productive writer and a tormented writer, which reminded me of the different types of writers I have been learning about in my Publication Workshop class. One sentence also reminded me of one of our previous texts for this course:

“For an instant I seem to understand the meaning and fascination of a now inconceivable vocation: that of the copyist. The copyist lived simultaneously in two temporal dimensions, that of reading and that of writing; he could write without the anguish of having the void open before his pen; read without the anguish of having his own act become concrete in some material object.” (178)

Immediately, I related this passage to The Name of the Rose, and how the monks would sit in the scriptorium and copy manuscripts for hours every day. I talked about the monks’ dedication to knowledge in my Eco: Third Day response, which is relevant to Flannery’s opinion on copyists. The monks had the unique occupation of immersing themselves in stories that already existed and didn’t have to worry about creating their own, something that Flannery envied in his state of writer’s block.

Another large aspect of this section was the intimate scenes that usually took place in the stories, but also in the narrator’s life. I mentioned in my previous post that there seemed to be this ongoing theme of men lusting after women, which continues up through this section as well. In the scene with the narrator and the girl who looks like Lotaria, the narrator points out the hypocrisy of your actions: “You’re the absolute protagonist of this book, very well; but do you believe that gives you the right to have carnal relations with all the female characters?” (219)

This is essentially what happens with the narrator and all the narrators of the stories. I see this connection between the enjoyment the narrator gets out of reading and the enjoyment he gets out of chasing women. In a way, this adds to my idea that Calvino is portraying a stereotypical view that  men have of women. However, this quote is the first time that Calvino really draws attention to the morality of  these decisions.

Regardless, I agree with the narrator: “Wasn’t your story with Ludmilla enough to give the plot the warmth and grace of a love story?” (219)

Source: Calvino, through Ch 9

2 thoughts on “Calvino, Through Ch 9

  1. I mentioned the exact same thing about sharing feelings with Flannery because being in an academic setting and being told to write just causes my brain to flake, but when I’m alone I can come up with so many ideas.

    1. One of the reasons I thought this book was interesting is because of the way it questions the culture of reading, especially academic reading and writing. I think Calvino could be pointing out that everyone has a different way of reading and writing, but we’re so conditioned to do things a certain way.

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