I can’t do it. I can’t talk about beginning number eight: Calvino’s Japanese story.
We like to keep this blog PG as much as we can, but the amount of sex in “On the carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon” does not allow for that. I will share that I marked one quote because it reminded me of Anna Karenina:
“…I made an unwise and involuntary movement of the mouth: I bared and clenched my teeth as if to bite. Instinctively Makiko jumped back with an expression of sudden pain, as if she had really been given a bite at some sensitive spot.”
Remember Vronsky’s teeth?
The other thought I had was that the titled chapters of Calvino’s novel would make great names for jazz band pieces. Don’t you agree? “If on a winter’s night a traveler”, “Outside the town of Malbork”, “Leaning from the steep slope”— I can hear the brass section now.
Ooo “Without fear of wind or vertigo” would have tons of percussion. “Looks down in the gathering shadow” could be for a trio: piano, set, and upright bass. If Modest Mussorgsky could write Pictures at an Exhibition based on Viktor Hartmann’s artwork , surely some jazz composer could do the same with Calvino’s classic. The movement depicting “On the carpet of leaves…” may need to come with a parental advisory warning.
This chapter is a return to “cloak and dagger” with double agents and costume changes. “On a carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon” is confiscated from the Reader. Corinna (who looks like Lotaria, later turns out to be Gertrude, Ingrid, Alfonsina, Sheila, and Capt. Alexandra, but who really is Lortaria ) gives him a replacement title that’s not a replacement because it’s a different story entirely.
“You have come all the way to Ataguitania to hunt a counterfeiter of novels, and you find yourself prisoner of a system in which every aspect of life is counterfeit, a fake.”
There’s imprisonment, censorship, and a reading machine: reminiscent of The Trial, 1984, and Gulliver’s Travels. In the end the book “has been crumbled, dissolved, can no longer be recomposed, like a sand dune blown away by the wind.”
Were you really surprised?