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The Narration of “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino Essay

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Updated: Feb 23rd, 2022

Once you open a book of poetry or prose, you open a brand new world with intricate twists of plot or simple stories dwelling on perpetual topics, such as love and hatred, friendship and betrayal, social and philosophical conflicts, which are significant for anyone. Moreover, you discover profound and vivid characters that transmit the aesthetic message of the author as well as entertaining and absorbing the reader in the universe of fiction appealing to their either intellectual or emotional response while wondering through the mazes of the author’s imagination. However, before the book is published, it goes through several stages that can hamper the book’s advancement to the reader.

First and foremost, it should be pointed out that critics evaluate every book and seals its fate. Thus, critics may approve of the book and give acclaimed reviews or fulminate against the book. Taking into account the fact that critics, as a rule, shape the opinion of the majority of the reading public, their appraisal may be a powerful tool. Moreover, current society of conspicuous mass consumption tends to opt for books that may be financially lucrative regardless of their intrinsic quality and aesthetic and moral value, which causes critics promote books that could withstand competition due to their provocative or aggressive titles and topics raised but leaving profound books underrated.

In connection with this suggestion, the German writer Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in one of his Letters to Young Poet that works of art can not be separated as they are solid entities with their own inner balance and mechanism that reflect the author’s personal unique worldviews. On top of that, Rilke states that criticism should not interfere into the work of art, the embodiment of the author’s life experiment, as it destroys the perception of the work of literature, nurtured by author as by a caring parent.

Despite the fact that criticism is the indispensable part of literature, according to Rilke, it distorts the overall impression on the work of art as solitude since criticism tends to decompose the text examining its parts separately on various levels. However, the correct approach should be caring attitude towards the book expressing love and tenderness as if it were a fragile item.

On the other hand, criticism may provide insight in the world of book’s imagery and explain author’s implications. As far as Italo Calvino’s creative work is concerned, it was greatly acclaimed by his friend and translator William Weaver in his article “Calvino and His Cities” which describes the character of the author, his attitude to his work, his uniqueness and exceptionality, his profound writings, the way his book were treated by critics and also dwelling upon their 20-year-long friendship. In addition, Weaver focuses on Calvino’s preferences in writing and his harmonious and musical style characterized by his appeal to neologisms and technical vocabulary that is accounted for his family background.

Weaver points out that their relationship was not easy though it lasted for twenty years until the death of Calvino. As a translator of the most Calvino’s books, Weaver felt the need to deeply penetrate into the world of Calvino’s novels trying to look at it from the point of view of the author himself. In addition, Weaver stresses that Calvino was a very precise and accurate both in life and at work. His books are characterized by neat and logically consistent layout of paragraphs and outlines. In fact, Calvino’s Invisible Cities are so innovatively structured that critical interpretation of the text appeared to be a very time-consuming undertaking for critics.

As it has already been mentioned, friendship between Weaver and Calvino lasted till the writer’s death. Weaver mentions that he didn’t attend the funeral since only close friend and relatives were invited and he didn’t venture to show up feeling that he wasn’t close enough. However, according to Calvino’s wife whom the author of the article met some time after funeral, Calvino didn’t get any close friends and entirely dedicated himself to his world of literature. From my perspective, this fact indicates that Calvino was a very talented writer and his books were part of his life, his passion but not the routine work to earn for living.

Moreover, being purely post-modernist, Calvino’s Invisible Cities encompasses multiple possible ways of the book’s interpretation. The book reveals the conversation between the aging emperor Kublai Khan and Marco Polo who describes 55 extraordinary and unique cities which he visited. It is known that Calvino made some journeys but the majority of the cities described in the book are the results of the author’s limitless and vivid imagination. Only a person completely absorbed in the process of creation and totally distracted from the world could write the story about marvellous imaginable cities as well as concerning topics of linguistic and human nature.

In his article Weaver emphasizes that the narration of Invisible Cities is very harmonious resembling pure music. This effect is achieved through the use of special structure of the book. The book comprises nine chapters framed by two dialogs between two pivotal figures the main topic of which reflects the theme brought up in the description of each of the city. Moreover, Calvino divides the cities according to their relevance to certain themes. Taking a specific structure of this book into account, we may say of a special architecture of Invisible Cities. In addition, the author pays much attention to the rhythm of the narration making it smooth and appealing to the reader. Furthermore, Calvino thoroughly selected each word to fit the phrase for it to transmit the message without any ambiguity.

All things considered, it should be pointed out that Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino is a invaluable piece of art that should be examined in details and greatly appreciated.

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1. IvyPanda. "The Narration of "Invisible Cities" by Italo Calvino." February 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/invisible-cities-by-italo-calvino-essay/.


IvyPanda. "The Narration of "Invisible Cities" by Italo Calvino." February 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/invisible-cities-by-italo-calvino-essay/.


IvyPanda. 2022. "The Narration of "Invisible Cities" by Italo Calvino." February 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/invisible-cities-by-italo-calvino-essay/.


IvyPanda. (2022) 'The Narration of "Invisible Cities" by Italo Calvino'. 23 February.

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