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Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
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Invisible Cities (edition 1997)

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

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,358105812 (4.19)158
Member:ed.pendragon
Title:Invisible Cities
Authors:Italo Calvino (Author)
Other authors:William Weaver (Translator)
Info:Minerva (1997), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:literature, magic realism

Work details

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

1001 (25) 1001 books (28) 20th century (103) architecture (49) Calvino (39) cities (80) experimental (24) fantasy (92) fiction (768) Italian (214) Italian literature (196) Italo Calvino (28) Italy (113) Kublai Khan (57) literature (153) magical realism (90) Marco Polo (75) metafiction (24) novel (114) oulipo (32) postmodern (33) postmodernism (43) read (74) short stories (81) to-read (103) translated (27) translation (53) travel (37) unread (34) Venice (40)
  1. 120
    Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (WSB7)
    WSB7: Both have wonderfully imaginative but controlled semiotic exercises.
  2. 112
    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.
  3. 82
    Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges (Carnophile)
    Carnophile: Both books are liesurely contemplations of fantastical situations, not plot- or character-driven, but conceptual.
  4. 41
    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
    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.
  8. 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.
  9. 10
    Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson (WSB7)
    WSB7: Each has a partially factual/partially imagined frame.
  10. 21
    Viriconium: "In Viriconium", "Viriconium Nights" by M. John Harrison (Torikton)
  11. 10
    Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente (PhoenixFalls)
  12. 00
    A Mapmaker's Dream: The Meditations of Fra Mauro, Cartographer to the Court of Venice by James Cowan (Poquette)
  13. 00
    The Fear of Losing Eurydice by Julieta Campos (StevenTX)
    StevenTX: Both authors explore the literary metaphors of cities (Calvino) and islands (Campos) as variations on an idea. The island city of Venice is central to both works.
  14. 00
    The Aphorisms of Kherishdar by M. C. A. Hogarth (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Vignettes that create a picture of something greater.
  15. 00
    Ailleurs : Voyage en Grande Garabagne - Au pays de la Magie - Ici, Poddema by Henri Michaux (claudiamesc)
    claudiamesc: Visionario, delirante, spietato, un bellissimo libro... un viaggio attraverso popoli dell'immaginazione, per chi si è già fatto trasportare da Marco Polo...
  16. 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.
  17. 00
    Dreams and stones by Magdalena Tulli (DieFledermaus)
  18. 11
    Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin (spiphany)
  19. 12
    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.
  20. 06
    Gramsci is Dead: Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements by Richard J.F. Day (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: For most this would seem like a quite odd recommendation, but give it a read if you are at all politically minded and you can see a connection.

(see all 20 recommendations)

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» See also 158 mentions

English (91)  Portuguese (Portugal) (4)  Dutch (3)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Greek (1)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (105)
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
Tan bueno como lo recordaba. ( )
  cuentosalgernon | Apr 7, 2014 |
Just beautiful. ( )
  joyhclark | Mar 13, 2014 |
I've read the portuguese translation of this book. ( )
  georgeslacombe | Feb 24, 2014 |
I had trouble with Invisible Cities. It's beautiful, light, a dream of a soap bubble of a book, insubstantial and for me, really difficult. I can appreciate the writing, the dreamy nature of the book, but I can't love it. It just didn't quite work for me. Maybe written by Catherynne M. Valente it would have worked for me -- her use of language has weight, somehow -- but in this translation at least, no, Calvino didn't work very well for me. It's gorgeous, but I quickly got impatient with it.

It's still a worthwhile read, I think, but don't look for a story here: that's not the kind of book this is. It's more like a dreamscape. ( )
2 vote shanaqui | Feb 19, 2014 |
Strange and fabulous, but it seemed a bit too conceptual for me to really say I loved it. I would describe it as a very special book. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Italo Calvinoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baranelli, LucaContributorsecondary 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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:37 -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)

» see all 2 descriptions

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