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If on a winter's night a traveler
If on a winter's night a traveler
by Italo Calvino
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Academia (The University)

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

You've probably noticed that If on a winter's night a traveler doesn't present the nicest view of universities and academia in general—especially when it comes to reading.

Whether it's the cramped, dusty office of Uzzi-Tuzii or the annoying rants of Lotaria, the university seems to fulfill no other purpose than ruining the pleasure that comes from an "innocent" reading of books. Sure, Professor Uzzi-Tuzii has his own ideas about reading, and some of them actually seem half-decent; but the man gets too hung up on professional quibbles to really enjoy literature. And as Silas Flannery notes of Lotaria, she reads books "only to find in them what she was already convinced of before reading them" (15.83). Sound like any grad students you know? (Zing!)

In Calvino's text, academic readers tend to be bad readers. Why? Because they bring an agenda to stories and don't allow themselves to keep an open mind while reading. In the end, according to If on a winter's night, academia is annoying at best and corrupt at worst.

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