Sunday, 19 August 2012

Good News and Calvino's Thoughts on the Boundaries Between Readers and Publishers

I have some wonderful news! Firstly, I received my exam results on Thursday, and not only were they great, but they also allowed me to get into my first choice university! I am officially off to the University of Southampton at the end of September. I’m very excited, and I can’t wait to begin my English course! 

Secondly, I finally finished If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino! After writing my earlier post about it, I wasn’t quite sure if I would finish it by the end of the summer, but my determination came through for me and I managed to finish it on Thursday. Thursday was a particularly good day for me. 

Now, I wanted to share an interesting paragraph from If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller. It really stuck out to me, and I wanted to see what you all thought. This excerpt is taken from a character called Ludmilla in Calvino’s novel who is an avid reader. Here’s her thoughts on the boundaries between readers and publishing houses:

“There’s a boundary line: on one side are those who make books, on the other those who read them. I want to remain one of those who read them, so I take care always to remain on my side of the line. Otherwise, the unsullied pleasure of reading ends, or at least is transformed into something else, which is not what I want. This boundary line is tentative, it tends to get erased: the world of those who deal with books professionally is more and more crowded and tends to become one with the world of readers. Of course, readers are also growing more numerous, but it would seem that those who use books to produce other books are increasing more than those who just like to read books and nothing else. I know that if I cross that boundary, even as an exception, by chance, I risk being mixed up in this advancing tide; that’s why I refuse to set foot inside a publishing house, even for a few minutes.”

Seeing as I am one of those people Ludmilla speaks of – I’m a reader, but I want to become involved in the publishing of books – this paragraph struck me. I think with things like blogging, writers are becoming more and more aware that there are career options out there which could fulfil their love of books; working in publishing is no longer something for only writers to aspire to. So in this respect, I think Ludmilla is right, although I certainly don’t think this is any sort of detriment to ‘just’ readers.

What do you think? Do you agree with Calvino’s statement or disagree?


  1. I might not work in a publishing house, but the fact that I write and edit already means that I'm already standing with a foot on either side of the line. I don't mind the idea of being transformed by the publishing industry, I just hope it does not kill my love for reading. Thanks for sharing this Fiona, it's interesting to think about :)

    1. I agree. I don't think working in publishing will kill my love for reading - if anything I hope it will enhance it! Thanks for reading it and sharing your thoughts! I just thought it was a really interesting statement to make, and considering how close a relationship most of us hold with publishers, I thought it might be good to think about.