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Invisible Citiesby Italo Calvino
In Invisible Cities, Marco Polo and Kublai Khan tell stories of the cities they've seen, imagined, dreamt, and remembered. The result is a diaphanous fantasy alternating between mirage and memory, like bridges slipping through river fog, or minarets wavering in desert heat. In the end, after a traveler's tour of cities possible and impossible, the two storytellers find themselves on common ground.
Invisible Cities is a great introduction to Calvino short, but wide in scope; intelligent, yet accessible; dazzling, yet profound. I love this book, but I can't really explain why. It defies easy categorization or synopsis. Invisible Cities exists for no other reason than Calvino wrote it. It exists, like sunlight, without question. And like sunlight, it illuminates something inexpressible and mysterious. It provokes the same feelings I have when I return home after traveling outside the country subtle shifts in perception and value that texture my home city with new light, adding deeper layers of understanding and meaning to my quotidian life.
I want to live in the cities Calvino describes, and it turns out that I already do I just don't always see the remarkable, or hold the perspective necessary to observe beauty in the commonplace. Ask me to describe the city I live in, and I will describe my own life. Invisible Cities is kind of like that.
Synopses & Reviews
In a garden sit the aged Kublai Khan and the young Marco Polo — Tartar emperor and Venetian traveler. Kublai Khan has sensed the end of his empire coming soon. Marco Polo diverts the emperor with tales of the cities he has seen in his travels around the empire: cities and memory, cities and desire, cities and designs, cities and the dead, cities and the sky, trading cities, hidden cities. Soon it becomes clear that each of these fantastic places is really the same place.
"Of all tasks, describing the contents of a book is the most difficult and in the case of a marvelous invention like Invisible Cities, perfectly irrelevant." Gore Vidal, The New York Review of Books
“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” — from Invisible Cities
In a garden sit the aged Kublai Khan and the young Marco Polo — Mongol emperor and Venetian traveler. Kublai Khan has sensed the end of his empire coming soon. Marco Polo diverts his host with stories of the cities he has seen in his travels around the empire: cities and memory, cities and desire, cities and designs, cities and the dead, cities and the sky, trading cities, hidden cities. As Marco Polo unspools his tales, the emperor detects these fantastic places are more than they appear.
“Invisible Cities changed the way we read and what is possible in the balance between poetry and prose . . . The book I would choose as pillow and plate, alone on a desert island.” — Jeanette Winterson
About the Author
Calvino was born in Cuba and grew up in San Remo, Itlay.
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