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Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Invisible Cities

by Italo Calvino

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,682142841 (4.16)280
  1. 160
    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: The Greatest Empire That Never Was 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
    Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson (WSB7)
    WSB7: Each has a partially factual/partially imagined frame.
  10. 10
    The Logogryph: A Bibliography Of Imaginary Books by Thomas Wharton (unctifer)
  11. 10
    The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo (Jannes)
  12. 10
    Marcovaldo or The Seasons in the City by Italo Calvino (unctifer)
  13. 21
    Viriconium: "The Pastel City", "A Storm of Wings", "In Viriconium", "Viriconium Nights" by M. John Harrison (Torikton)
  14. 10
    Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente (PhoenixFalls)
  15. 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.
  16. 00
    Dreams and stones by Magdalena Tulli (DieFledermaus)
  17. 00
    Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot on and Never Will by Judith Schalansky (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Little vignettes about places. Calvino's are more fanciful and there's a twist, while Schalansky's are little anecdotes based on actual bizarre and out-of-the-way places.
  18. 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.
  19. 00
    The Aphorisms of Kherishdar by M. C. A. Hogarth (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Vignettes that create a picture of something greater.
  20. 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...

(see all 24 recommendations)


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» See also 280 mentions

English (125)  Portuguese (Portugal) (4)  French (4)  Dutch (3)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Greek (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (142)
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)
3.5 stars ( )
  Kirstielee | Apr 16, 2018 |
An all-time favorite; a book unlike any other I know. Incredibly poetic, delightfully whimsical. Not a right choice for readers fond of action-filled page-turners. A book for dreamers longing for beautiful wor(l)ds.
( )
  dorfe | Jan 1, 2018 |
For an aesthete and especially a synaesthete like me, this combination of, oh ... geometry and spice is as good as it gets. Wish I'd had this book when I was 15, when each page would've made me translucent or sent me tumbling into the distant past or fill my mouth with dirt or whatever (they still do, momentarily, like a flash, but strawberries of course don't taste as good anymore with age either, etc.), and when even the bevies of bathing beauties (and dancing girls, and milkmaids) would not have seemed excessive. It's a catalogue of wonders here. ( )
5 vote MeditationesMartini | Dec 13, 2017 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 125 (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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

» see all 4 descriptions

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