Translated by William Weaver
Published in 1972 as Le città invisibili
This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
I discovered Italo Calvino last May, when I read If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler, and I had to try something else: I love his smart very literary style.
Invisible Cities can also be confusing for some readers, but it is worth the effort of diving in, plus this is a rather short book. Each chapter consists in imaginary descriptions of cities by Marco Polo as he meets Kublai Khan of China, and does not want to reveal him that his kingdom is diminishing. The titles of the chapters evolve, some are repeated, but I tried in vain to discern a pattern, though I’m sure there is one. There is no story, no plot. It sounds almost more like poetry than prose. The descriptions are very lyric, and give you a good feel of each city.
If you are ready for some reading in unknown territory, you should definitely try Italo Calvino.
The foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
Imaginary conversations between Marco Polo and his host, the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan, conjure up cities of magical times. “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) [Goodreads]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Italo Calvino was born in Cuba and grew up in Italy. He was a journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952-1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979).
His style is not easily classified; much of his writing has an air of the fantastic reminiscent of fairy tales (Our Ancestors, Cosmicomics), although sometimes his writing is more “realistic” and in the scenic mode of observation (Difficult Loves, for example). Some of his writing has been called postmodern, reflecting on literature and the act of reading, while some has been labeled magical realist, others fables, others simply “modern”. He wrote: “My working method has more often than not involved the subtraction of weight. I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities; above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language.“[goodreads]
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