Il «graticcio della pagina informe». Racconto della lettura e lettura del racconto ne L’avventura di un lettore di Italo Calvino

Roberto Risso

This essay analyses the functions and role of the reader in Italo Calvino’s narrative prose focusing in particular on an interpretation of the main character in the short story, L’avventura di un lettore (1958) published in the collection Amori difficili (1958 and 1970) up to Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore (1979). Calvino’s characterisation of the reader triggers an analysis of the act of reading as a source of knowledge and escapism and establishes a unique theoretical relationship between contemporary and culturally similar intellectuals in Italy and France. Moving from Calvino’s critical essays on European literature in the nineteenth century and echoes of them in his narrative prose, the essay interprets his short story about a reader who is split between a desire for pure contemplation and the need for action and human relationships in the light of the French theories of the École du regard and certain novels based on pure description and visual representation such as Alain Robbe-Grillet’s La Jalousie and the same author’s critical writings on the subject of the new novel. Furthermore the essay develops Calvino’s web of critical relations with Maurice Blanchot’s critical thinking both on the infinity of the text and the idea of literary space as well as Umberto Eco’s critical essays on the functions of literature.