On writing “if on a winter’s night a traveler”:
“The execution was more difficult than anything I’ve written. My principal idea was to write a book in which the reader would not be reading the text of a novel but a description of the act of reading per se. I carried this idea around with me for many years without being able to proceed with it, because I had a problem about writing portions of novels which I myself -in the voice of the Reader -must praise as marvelous and fascinating. I was so tortured by this problem that I stopped writing fiction altogether for three years after the idea of the book came to me. I wrote for newspapers, I worked hard at my editorial job at Einaudi. I am definitely the tortured type of writer – I suffer, I suffer, it’s the only thing I do well.’’