Study Guide

If on a winter's night a traveler Chapter 7

By Italo Calvino

Chapter 7


  • And of course, the story breaks off. Bahhhhh!
  • You have been completely absorbed in this plot, and only now do you glance to the side and find Ludmilla sitting beside you on a pile of books, also rapt at Professor Uzzi-Tuzii's reading.
  • When the professor suddenly stops reading, he informs you that at this point in the story, the author apparently sank into a deep depression and committed suicide. Yikes.
  • Then the professor gets all weird and disappears behind some shelves, yelling for you not to ask where the rest of the book is. He obscurely says that the story you've been listening to has descended into another language: the language of the dead, which you'll never be able to understand.
  • You don't like this explanation, but before you can speak, Ludmilla challenges the professor about what readers can and can't understand. Hearing her speak, you realize that Ludmilla is a lot smarter than you.
  • When Ludmilla has finished speaking, her sister Lotaria suddenly appears from behind a bookcase and says that the novel you've been looking for is the very same one she (Lotaria) plans to use for her "feminist revolution" (7.21).
  • Her university study group is going to read and debate this same book in their next session, which you and Ludmilla are both invited to join.
  • Lotaria also notes that the book you're actually looking for is not by a Cimmerian author, but one from the geographically similar nation of Cimbria.
  • At this point, Professor Uzzi-Tuzii throws a bit of a fit, insisting that the Cimbrian claim to this story is just government propaganda intended to erase the accomplishments of the Cimmerians.
  • A rival professor named Galligani enters the room and argues with Uzzi-Tuzii.
  • At this point, you and Ludmilla have little to no clue about what all of these academics are talking about. They just seem to be fighting over trivial things, and you want to know how the rest of the book unfolds.
  • You and Ludmilla follow Lotaria out of the office and sit at a table in another room, where Lotaria pulls a manuscript out of the book you want to keep reading. You quickly learn that the true name of the story you've started is not Leaning from the steep slope, but Without fear of wind or vertigo.
  • You want the story to begin, but first, all of the university students have to decide which narrow angle they are going to use to analyze the book. Some want to give a psychoanalytic reading, some a Marxist one, some a feminist one, etc. For you and Ludmilla, it's all very boring and frustrating.
  • Finally, when you can wait no longer, Lotaria starts to read and… that's right. This story has nothing to do with the one Uzzi-Tuzii was reading to you.
  • Sigh.