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Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Invisible Cities (edition 1997)

by Italo Calvino (Author), William Weaver (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,280139636 (4.17)258
Title:Invisible Cities
Authors:Italo Calvino (Author)
Other authors:William Weaver (Translator)
Info:Minerva (1997), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:literature, magic realism

Work details

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

  1. 150
    Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (WSB7)
    WSB7: Both have wonderfully imaginative but controlled semiotic exercises.
  2. 131
    Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges (Carnophile)
    Carnophile: Both books are liesurely contemplations of fantastical situations, not plot- or character-driven, but conceptual.
  3. 113
    The City & The City by China Miéville (snarkhunt)
    snarkhunt: Calvino's book is a travelogue of impossible societies while China's book is a sweet little noir stuck in the middle of one.
  4. 51
    The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges (Torikton)
  5. 30
    Kalpa Imperial by Angélica Gorodischer (spiphany)
  6. 20
    Mr. Palomar by Italo Calvino (P_S_Patrick)
    P_S_Patrick: Thes two books are in some ways very like each other, and in some ways quite the opposite. In Mr Palomar various locations, things, and thoughts are described precisely with the utmost eloquence and detail, whereas in Invisible Cities, it is one place being described in many different ways, hazy, as if seen through lenses of different qualities, and warping mirrors. But the effect is much the same, both books give you something to think about, make you see things in different ways, and are a pleasure to read. Both books also contain no strong plot, and consist of many small and diverse sections, and in a way, could be dipped into. Where Palomar gets very much into the mind of the protagonist, and his fixed, elaborate, and definite interpretations of reality, Invisible Cities is similar in that the recollections are also told from the point of view of the narrator, but differ each time, none being tied to reality, all of them containing aspects of truth found through how you interpret them. If you enjoyed reading one of these books, you should enjoy the other.… (more)
  7. 20
    Solution 11-167: The Book of Scotlands by Momus (Kolbkarlsson)
    Kolbkarlsson: Written in the same vein, The Book of Scotlands lists a series of alternative scotlands previously unheard of. Every Scotland is written in it's own style, but with similar wit and daunting imagination.
  8. 20
    Tainaron: Mail from Another City by Leena Krohn (ari.joki)
    ari.joki: An allegory of the human condition by revealing one facet at a time through presenting a foreign, strange city with foreign, strange inhabitants.
  9. 10
    Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente (PhoenixFalls)
  10. 21
    Viriconium: "The Pastel City", "A Storm of Wings", "In Viriconium", "Viriconium Nights" by M. John Harrison (Torikton)
  11. 10
    Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson (WSB7)
    WSB7: Each has a partially factual/partially imagined frame.
  12. 32
    The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel (VanishedOne)
    VanishedOne: One is systematic and compendious, the other flows freely from one impression to another, but both flit between windows onto imaginary vistas.
  13. 00
    Freud's Alphabet: A Novel by Jonathan Tel (hdcanis)
    hdcanis: A novel starring a historical person (Marco Polo or Sigmund Freud) exploring a city (Venice or London) in fragmentary manner, each fragment handling a different aspect of the city.
  14. 00
    The Logogryph: A Bibliography Of Imaginary Books by Thomas Wharton (unctifer)
  15. 00
    Marcovaldo or The Seasons in the City by Italo Calvino (unctifer)
  16. 00
    The Aphorisms of Kherishdar by M. C. A. Hogarth (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Vignettes that create a picture of something greater.
  17. 00
    The travels of Marco Polo the Venetian by Marco Polo (Jannes)
  18. 00
    Urville by Gilles Trehin (VanishedOne)
    VanishedOne: One imagines many cities impressionistically, the other one city precisely, but each offers a window onto imaginary urban environments.
  19. 00
    Dreams and stones by Magdalena Tulli (DieFledermaus)
  20. 11
    Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin (spiphany)

(see all 23 recommendations)


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» See also 258 mentions

English (122)  All (4)  French (4)  Dutch (3)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Greek (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (139)
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
This was the book which did not want to be found. For nearly a year I kept my eyes peeled for it, casually at first, vigorously for the last five months of that time. I went to used bookshops looking only for this novel, I tried new bookstores and was ready to pay those extra pennies for it, in cities and small towns in British Columbia and Ontario, but I could never find it. When I got an e-reader for travelling (and thought how I'd better travel with this one) I searched online but could not find anywhere to buy a digital copy. It was such an infuriating thing, and I will still buy a physical version of this book if it ever comes into existence again because I had to get it onto my e-reader using alternate means.

I first heard about this book back when I was in that Medieval Spatial Theory class where I was reading that dry and heavy tome, [b:The Production of Space|328403|The Production of Space|Henri Lefebvre|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347614979s/328403.jpg|1093553], interspersed with Middle English poetry. Marco Polo's [b:The Travels|574929|The Travels|Marco Polo|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1175924299s/574929.jpg|2369172] was a text for the class and Italo Calvino's name came up quite naturally as it bridged the theory and the literary. What are cities and what do they mean? Is a city the same from one moment to the next because it maintains a name and a mostly-fixed geographical location, or does it constantly change to become a different city? How do each of us know cities differently, and can we call it the same place when there are such differences in what it means to us? All those kinds of questions are raised in this book and made it constantly interesting. Calvino writes beautifully and the way his ideas take shape really pulls at me.

The faults I found were two: that I had a digital copy which diminished the aesthetic of the book and did, I think, affect how it is meant to be read (for which I do not fault Calvino, of course), and that I'm not very fond of the cities-as-women/women-as-utopias that pervades it. Calvino really Gazes at women, and I found the same thing in [b:If on a Winter's Night a Traveler|374233|If on a Winter's Night a Traveler|Italo Calvino|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1355316130s/374233.jpg|1116802]. He is constantly reading women but it doesn't seem like he ever listens to them. He is always the authority/author who can interpret them better than they could themselves or even enhance them by the poetry of his evaluations. They seem so aesthetic in his novels and I can't see eye-to-eye with him on that. Whenever he writes about women I wish he'd just stop, really. So while he's got women that are characters and frustrating, there's also the fact that all these cities have female names and I would have liked the book better if it were possible to ignore the fact. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
OMG! Unbelievably clever and mind expanding. ( )
  ghefferon | Dec 6, 2016 |
Invisible Cities is definitely different from my usual reading but was intriguing nonetheless. There is a frame of short conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan with the descriptions of the cities interspersed. The cities seem to be fantasy cities, happy cities, desolate cities, all types of cities and some of these descriptions approach poetry. Are they different cities, all the same city, or, just ideas about cities ... A strange but interesting book that has by no means put me off of reading more Calvino.
  hailelib | Apr 13, 2016 |
I am struggling with how to rate this and how to shelve it. 5 stars? 4 stars? I may change this later. Is this SF? Do I shelve it under central asia (for setting--though really is it set there?) or Italy (for author?).

While reading this book I kept thinking how [a:China Mi©ville|33918|China Mií©ville|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1243988363p2/33918.jpg] had to have read this book. Had to have. The tone in some segments, the seemingly outlandish ideas--they remind me so much of The City and the City, Embassytown, even Perdido Street Station. But especially the short story about the "misdelivered package" in Looking for Jake.

My favorite city is Ersilia--the city of strings that show the relationships within. Because every city has invisible strings, we just don't think about it. ( )
1 vote Dreesie | Apr 12, 2016 |
A strange and refreshingly different book. On the surface it is about the cities Marco Polo came across on his travels (or made up), which he relates to Kublai Khan. In reality, the book is about much more than just cities. Its about people and society, the circles in which we move, and our tendencies to repeat the past, yet to forget about it simultaneously.
1 vote bartt95 | Apr 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Calvino, Italoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baranelli, LucaContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kapari, JormaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nieuwenhuyzen, KeesCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pasolini, Pier PaoloAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlot, HennyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walsmith, SheltonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weaver, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Kublai Khan does not necessarily believe everything Marco Polo says when he describes the cities visited on his expedition, but the emperor of the Tartars does continue listening to the young Venetian with greater attention and curiosity than he shows any other messenger or explorer of his.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156453800, Paperback)

"Kublai Khan does not necessarily believe everything Marco Polo says when he describes the cities visited on his expeditions, but the emperor of the Tartars does continue listening to the young Venetian with greater attention and curiosity than he shows any other messenger or explorer of his." So begins Italo Calvino's compilation of fragmentary urban images. As Marco tells the khan about Armilla, which "has nothing that makes it seem a city, except the water pipes that rise vertically where the houses should be and spread out horizontally where the floors should be," the spider-web city of Octavia, and other marvelous burgs, it may be that he is creating them all out of his imagination, or perhaps he is recreating details of his native Venice over and over again, or perhaps he is simply recounting some of the myriad possible forms a city might take.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:27 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In Kublai Khan's garden, at sunset, the young Marco Polo diverts the aged emperor from his obsession with the impending end of his empire with tales of countless cities past, present, and future.

(summary from another edition)

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