Book: Invisible Cities

The description of 55 cities is no mean feat. Especially when so many of the cities are part of the imagination and express such different aspects of cities. Italo Calvino once again impresses me with the scope of his imagination, his originality and his pure genius.

invisible cities

Isn’t the cover just amazing?


Yes I have gushed over his work time and time again. But what can I say? His books inspire. Reading through the different cities he’s imagined, I could see stories of life in each city forming in my head. From just a page of descriptions, cities were coming to life. Their image flashed in my mind and I could see, smell and feel their pulse. It’s beyond words. I love how the cities were connected to their titles, and what a variety there were. How to explain?

There were ten main types of cities. Cities and memory, desire, signs, eyes, names, the dead, the sky, thin cities, trading cities, continuous cities and hidden cities. And for each type or perhaps a better would be aspect of the cities he would describe 5 totally different cities which really connected with the aspect in their title. The entire novel is framed as a dialogue between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan. It’s beautiful to read, even if there is no plot or characterization.

Cities are made up of their history, their people, the names that they have taken on, the environment they are set in, the economy they have. There’s just so much about cities that Calvino is able to bring across. There’s a lot to digest behind the beautiful imagining of cities. And I think the title of this book is just so appropriate. Having lived in a city for all my life, I never considered many of the things that he mentioned. But after reading the book, it’s got me thinking.

Italo Calvino deserves a lot more recognition than he has received. He is quite possibly my favourite author and I would be happy to read his books for the rest of my life. I wish everyone would give his works a try. This book is a good place to start, although my favourite is still cosmicomics. Give him a go, I think you’d fall in love too.

2 Responses to “Book: Invisible Cities”
  1. Chris Bronsk says:

    Nice write up on a wonderful book. And that cover is outstanding. is that a UK edition? Lovely.

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