Yes, it is a conventional love story.

“What makes lovemaking and reading resemble each other most is that within both of them times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space” (156).

Is it a “conventional” love story? Hmmm. I think it is a question worth some analysis and discussion. In terms of the conventional aspects, if the elements of the narrative are viewed from the perspective of motivation; then, yes, the novel is conventional in the following ways: One, the desire for oneness or an erasure of boundaries and the separations of humanness are definitely evident. But in this book, it is the desire to erase boundaries between the writer and the reader. They are the lovers. Bonded by a common space – the book – or the text, which provides the entry-way for the two to interact. Calvino writes that Ludmilla’s body is being read, like a book (155).

Two, there is the process or adventure of bringing about this desired closeness. Just like the “you” is thwarted in his attempts to enter into this hallowed ground with Ludmilla, (eventually successfully consummating the relationship); so the writer is struggling to reach his reader, communicate effectively and enter into a kind of oneness with his audience.

Thirdly, there is the tension of isolation within community. The writer is isolated as he spies on the reader through his telescope. The reader is isolated in her experience of the book: “Reading is solitude” (147). It is solitude, even when the two are together. The dynamic of the intimacy between writer and reader, could be arguably more intimate than the act of lovemaking. When the reader enters the space of the book, just as the lover enters the space of their lover, it is another dimension, defying the flow of regular time and creating its own character. The comparison of the two relationships is, I believe, at the center of the novel and supports the case for the Calvino novel being a love story.

One thought on “Yes, it is a conventional love story.”

  1. I think I agree with you that in this novel “the intimacy between writer and reader is more intimate than the act of lovemaking” for the “you” character. Once “you” and Ludmilla consummate their relationship, I felt that Ludmilla fades from story a bit and that “you” becomes more engrossed in finding the new leads to how the stories fit together. It almost feels like at the end if he has to chooses to be with Ludmilla if his story is either going to end in death or marriage.

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