Invisible Cities (Book Review)

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino Vintage Classics book cover thumbnail
‘Invisible Cities’ book cover © Vintage Classics

Enter quote: The book’s final paragraph.

An entirely objective review of this novel might not be quite feasible, since Invisible Cities proved quite visibly to be my exact, total and absolute cup of tea.

Written in the 70s, this new addition to my ‘favourites’ shelf here on Goodreads received a Nebula Award for Best Novel nomination in 1975. Meandering flawlessly among philosophy, allegory, fantasy and magical realism, Invisible Cities build luminous images and arguments on a wide range of themes, like memory, desire or death. These themes are sometimes reflected on the book’s chapter titles and groupings; the mathematical structure and meticulously crafted symmetrical patterns of the chapters certainly pay homage to the Oulipo literary group, which Calvino was a member of, and makes this book a literary edifice of its own.

It’s true that the only mention of women in this book is limited e.g. on how their frolicking in idyllic fountains, bathing in garden pools or chattering while weaving adds to the cities’ description. Given, however, that women’s social position and depiction in classic literature are rarely of an empowering, feminist cut to begin with, as well as the fact that the interlocutors are supposed to be two 13th century men, I ultimately decided not to fixate on that. Because…

…This is without a doubt the most splendid book I’ve read in a long time.


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