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If on a winter's night a traveler

If on a winter's night a traveler


by Italo Calvino

Mr. Cavedagna

Character Analysis

Mr. Cavedagna is kind of a stooge. He's described as a "little man, shrunken and bent, who seems to shrink and bend more and more every time anyone calls him" (9.35). He works super hard, but he's the one who's always forced to clean up the mess caused by Ermes Marana's web of deception.

It turns out that just like Ludmilla, Cavedagna wants to read books with total innocence. Just one problem: his innocence has been ruined by his career in publishing, since he's seen the bleak, assembly-line side of books:

"In my village there were few books, but I used to read, yes, in those days I did read. [...] I keep thinking that when I retire I'll go back to my village and take up reading again, as before." (9.44)

Cavedagna grew up in a village that he looks back on with a sense of nostalgia, and he hopes that he'll be able to return to that mindset when he retires. He wants to unlearn what he knows about publishing (kind of like how Irnerio has unlearned how to read). But we don't have high hopes for the guy. After all, Cavedagna is always caught up in the world that keeps making more and more demands on him, "his eyes staring, his chin quivering, his neck twisting in the effort to keep pending and in plain view all the other unresolved queries" (9.35).

Poor guy.