As Kublai Khan's empire
is about to fall, Marco Polo eases Khan's pain with tales of far away
travels. He recounts the cities he has visited in such a way that they
often border on poetry. Each vignette is like a tiny beautiful
impressionist painting. Calvino's masterwork is at once hopeful and
despairing, exact and vague; all are quiet flashes of perfection.
"Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else." -- from Invisible Cities
In a garden sit the aged Kublai Khan and the young Marco Polo -- Mongol emperor and Venetian traveler. Kublai Khan has sensed the end of his empire coming soon. Marco Polo diverts his host with stories of the cities he has seen in his travels around the empire: cities and memory, cities and desire, cities and designs, cities and the dead, cities and the sky, trading cities, hidden cities. As Marco Polo unspools his tales, the emperor detects these fantastic places are more than they appear.
"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.