In "The Adventure of a Reader,” why is Amedeo addicted to reading? Examine what he derives from it.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Calvino suggests that Amadeo is addicted to reading because it provides a sense of adventure for him. Amadeo looked at reading as a way to supplement the sense of adventure that might have waned as time wore on:

His interest in action survived, however, in his pleasure in reading; his passion was always the narration of events, the stories, the tangle of human situations—nineteenth-century novels especially, but also memoirs and biographies, and so on down to thrillers and science fiction, which he didn't disdain but which gave him less satisfaction because they were short. Amedeo loved thick tomes, and in tackling them he felt the physical pleasure of undertaking a great task. 

For Amadeo, the addiction to reading satisfied a need for adventure and a sense of accomplishment.  These realities might have been difficult to achieve in his own life.  Yet, reading enabled him to satiate these desires. It is in this condition where reading comes to represent much in way of meeting a need for adventure, accomplishment and purpose.

Calvino draws out Amadeo's addiction to reading as a way in which life's emotional needs can be met.  For Amadeo, reading is what provides a sense of direction to being:  "Beyond the surface of the page you entered a world where life was more alive than here on this side: like the surface of the water that separates us from that blue-and-green world, rifts as far as the eye can see, expanses of fine, ribbed sand, creatures half animal and half vegetable."  Life being "more alive" in reading is where Amadeo derives much from his reading.   At the same time, reading enabled Amadeo to embark on a sense of internal voyage that might not have been able to be undertaken physically: "He was not, however, a hasty, voracious reader. He had reached the age when rereading a book—for the second, third, or fourth time—affords more pleasure than a first reading. And yet he still had many continents to discover."  Amadeo was able to find a refuge in reading that he could not see in the "whims and dictates of the months of city life."  Even though the woman suggests that his reading might make him less than desirable company, it becomes clear that Amadeo embraces his reading for the meaning it provides.  Reading was able to transport him to a world that existed beyond limitations and constraints.  This becomes something that Calvino depicts as being intensely craved as Amadeo was able to "ponder" and "collect his thoughts" in a world that he controlled and experienced in reading.  One sees this sense of control when Amadeo sees the woman, in an experience that Calvino describes as one that "did not mar the pleasure of reading, but was inserted into its normal process, so that now he was sure he could go on reading without being tempted to look away."  Amadeo gains a sense of unity and coherency in his own narrative through reading, a portal through which other aspects of consciousness can be properly "inserted."

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