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Invisible Cities (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 2 Oct 1997

4.3 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (2 Oct. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099429837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099429838
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"so important for thinking about the rich layers of life around us, our frailties, how we question and how we find meaning." (Red)

"Invisible Cities changed the way we read and what is possible in the balance between poetry and prose... The book I would choose as pillow and plate, alone on a desert island" (Jeanette Winterson)

"Whole chapters of unforced poetic prose in which insight and fantasy are perfectly matched-an exquisite world" (Observer)

"'Invisible Cities is perhaps his most beautiful work-the artist seems to have made peace with the tension between man's ideas of the many and the one" (New York Review of Books)

"The most beautiful of his books throws up ideas, allusions, and breathtaking imaginative insights on almost every page. Each time he returns from his travels, Marco Polo is invited by Kublai Khan to describe the cities he has visited-Although he makes Marco Polo summon up many cities for the Khan's imagination to feed on, Calvino is describing only one city in this book. Venice, that decaying heap of incomparable splendour, still stands as substantial evidence of man's ability to create something perfect out of chaos" (Paul Bailey Times Literary Supplement)

Book Description

'A subtle and beautiful meditation' Sunday Times

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is a masterpiece for me. It accompanied me throughout a long journey that I took in Europe in the past. It is written in a poetic way that makes you think, reflect and enter into the fantastic world of the invisible cities of Kublai Khan's empire, created by Calvino. Marco Polo works for the Khan. He has to visit many towns of the Mongolian empire so that later he can share his impressions with the great Khan. This is mainly because the empire is so big that Kublai Khan would never be able to visit all towns of his empire.

Each chapter has the name of a town, which is described by Marco Polo. In addition, there are many dialogs between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo that are, in my point of view, the most exciting part of the book. The dialogs are so intelligent and stimulating that I read some of them many times. They can trigger our natural curiosity about the way we see things around us, the future, the past, the present, etc. It is a book to be read in a slow pace so we can reflect upon each part. It helped me to slow down my frequently rushed rhythm of life. How conscious are we while we write the pages of our lives?
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Format: Paperback
A book that describes every imaginery city, every city that you have ever visited, every city that you have ever wanted to visit or imagine, or the city you have come from which you wish to be as you imagined it to be...this is a book about the language of the imagination, a book of cities as pychological states, physical states, sensory states...A book about descriptions ? Yes. But descriptions that have a transcendant quality. Not much narrative ? True, but yet they contain fragments of narrative that have an extraordinary quality, about place, and what place means to us all. Calvino was a truely great novelist, one of the great European novelists of this century, on par with Beckett..yet less bleak, no less universal. This is one, if not the best, of his "books". If you like this also try "If on an invisible night" and "Mr Paloma".

If you like to combine "thought-provoking" with sensual - a very unusual and wonderful combination.
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By A Customer on 10 May 2004
Format: Paperback
Before reading this novel, you must note one thing - there is no plot whatsoever. Despite what the blurb says about Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, that is simply a framework, a structure to hold a series of highly impressionistic descriptions of cities together. The book covers a remarkable range of ideas - death, life, religion and relationships to name but four. However, the lack of plot does not make it any less worthwhile nor any less literary - the prose is lush and poetic, lucid and evocative, and it would be hard not to be captivated by Calvino's remarkable style. Inventive, enlessly imaginative, extremely experimental, Calvino created a beautiful and memorable book - in effect, Calvino wrote the plotless novel.
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Format: Paperback
Don't believe the hype. I know that Calvino became famous in the States with If on a Winter Night... but this is his real masterpiece. Witty, poetic, visionary, elegantly written (and well translated). Calvino's idea of a city, or of the possible cities. The dream of cities, whatever we can find in cities. It's a deep book, it's an engrossing reading, it's a dream, it's a tale, it's a yarn, it's absolutely true. To me, this is the book that Calvino was born to write, and the one you have to read to really understand why Calvino will remain.
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Format: Paperback
I am only partway through Invisible Cities but, because I am a bit of an odd ball, I decided to type it into google and see what people had to say about it (you know theories, ideas, reviews and the like)and felt compelled to make a review having read some.

For me there is something so hauntingly beautiful about Calvino's words that it really gets under my skin. There's something that really gives the gut a good twist with this book that evokes a strange mix of longing for the future and helpless nostalgia for the past.

For me.

I understand why some won't like this book. There's no definite plot, no heros to follow, just an aimless drifting through some potentially non-existent cities broken up by some narrative between two men, possibly high and possibly not even speaking to one another. I can understand that it is boring for some; that it doesn't have much point, even that it can come across as quite pretentious.

What annoys me is that some of those who have turned their nose up at this book seem to feel that all the other reviewers who have read and enjoyed it are all rather pretentious and are desperately attempting to appear more well read and intelligent than they are.

Why? Because it's under Vintage Classics??

I know I'm not particularly intelligent or well read, and to be honest I don't really understand it, I just enjoy the words.

I agree that this is not ideal for those looking for a conventional story...or well, a story at all. However this isn't just a book for 'polite folk;' if you enjoy travelling, or dream of travelling, or are just stuck floating along somewhere and you like beautiful imagery I'd definately recommend Invisible Cities. The only thing that has prevented me from giving it a five star is that I haven't finished reading it yet....

Smiley face.
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