Calvino and other measures of coherence, form and harmony : Invisible cities, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler and Mr. Palomar
Cheong, Adel Xian Hui.
Date of Issue2012
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The formal composition of Italo Calvino’s novels Invisible Cities and If on a winter’s night a traveler, in addition to Mr. Palomar, intersect with thematic motifs of geometrical form, incongruity, inner coherence, and existence to signal at different ways of perceiving and being in the world. Each of these novels belonging Calvino’s later work exhibits an apparent form and order of its own. Yet, in spite of the fragmentary structure shared by these texts, one discerns the complexity of formal design from an internal coherence. Calvino notes with Invisible Cities, that “it was only by providing the serial descriptions with a frame, and thus with a beginning, middle and end, that [the descriptions of cities] could be turned into a book” (cited in McLaughlin 100). Despite the semblance of the received form of the novel furnished by these texts, their textual compositions deviate from the conventions of the realist novel to supply new narrative forms. According to Milan Kundera in The Art of the Novel, “a profound transformation of the novel’s form”, entails “marshaling all intellectual means and all poetic forms to illuminate ‘what only the novel can discover’: man’s being” (64). Surpassing the conventional parameters of the novel’s form, these texts demonstrate Calvino’s exploration of the formal possibilities available to the novel. Yet, as Kundera suggests, “[the novel] cannot breach the limits of its own possibilities, and bringing those limits to light is already an immense discovery, an immense triumph of cognition” (25). Therefore, what possibilities for the novel do these postmodern texts enact?
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University