Invisible Cities By Italo Calvino

1395 Words6 Pages
Italo Calvino’s (1923-1985) novel Invisible Cities consists of a number of dialogues between traveller Marco Polo and the Tartar Emperor Kublai Khan. Traveller Marco Polo tells Kublai Khan tales of the numerous cities of his empire, which the Khan himself will never visit. The men play with the notion that an understanding of the world’s cities will inform the emperor on how to govern his realm (Bloom 2001). Each city cannot be compared, as they are all radically different from one another. Calvino explores the concept of cities as a collective construction, made up of the memories, desires and experiences of its inhabitants. Cities should not be conceived as a unit but rather as the sum of its inhabitants’ multiple points of views which, all combined, create a multi-faceted perspective (Calvino 1974). Thus, the city is an aggregation of public and private spaces, from which emerges a shared identity allowing us to live in it. Themes that run throughout the book are desire, memories and signs, all of which Calvino uses as headings to classify sections of the book. The strong use of imaginative writing develops the theme of desire within the book. Cities are made up of desires. Polo misses his homeland, and tells his stories as though each city is female. Thus, the cities become objects of desire. The theme of desire is male oriented in which the woman is chased. A concept in which is explored literally, in the city of Zobiede. In Zobiede the street plan is the
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