Books: Mirror Writing

IF ON A WINTER'S NIGHT A TRAVELER by Italo Calvino Translated by William Weaver Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 260 pages; $12.95

Italo Calvino, quite possibly the best Italian novelist alive, is one of those storytellers who hold the mirror up to nature and then write about the mirror. The scholarly collector of Italian Folktales, Calvino can leave an impression that he would give anything to escape his self-conscious world of double takes and write a simple, earthy "Once upon a time ..." When an interviewer inquired about the intention of If on a winter's night...

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