Invisible Cities 1-3

zenobia

image credit: Colleen Corradi Brannigan

http://butdoesitfloat.com/Invisible-Cities

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19 thoughts on “Invisible Cities 1-3

  1. So far I am not quite understanding the point of this novel. I understand that the italicized portions are about the interactions between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan. In fact, these italicized sections seem to have the most of the plot in them. I also noticed that the italicized portions begin and end the chapters, but I am not sure how or if they relate to the upcoming/preceding chapters. The sections that contain normal type seem to have no purpose or plot. All these sections do is describe different cities that Marco Polo apparently traveled to. I do not understand the purpose of these description sections other than the fact that I assume Marco Polo is telling Kublai Khan about these cities.

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  2. Compared to past novels, I find Calvino’s novel immensely interesting. Marco Polo is describing cities to Kublai Khan, and even though they appear to be different cities, Khan began to realize how much they resembled one another. Then, on page 43, Marco Polo responded to Khan’s realization: “from the number of imaginable cities we must exclude those who elements are assembled without a connecting thread, an inner rule, a perspective, a discourse.” This response reminds Khan of the inevitable: even though these cities seem related and they seem to resemble one another, they are all different because each person experiences each travel destination in a different manner. Earlier in the section, on page 10, Marco Polo described the city of Zaira. When doing so, he said, “As this wave from memories flows in, the city soaks it up like a sponge and expands.” I immediately thought of when I tried recalling a city myself. For example, when I recall New York City, I may mention how loud and dirty it seemed. This was only on surface level, though. When you actively try to remember a place, you can remember countless other elements and stories, which may make each experience seem as though it comes from a different place all together.

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  3. I have heard of “Invisible Cities” in high school but never had the chance to actually read it. So far, it’s not what I was expecting at all. I might be a little picky when it comes to how a book is structured, but I definitely don’t like the way there’s a paragraph that takes up half a page, then the next paragraph is on another page. I like a book that flows instead of having to stop and turn to the next page just to read again. I understand them to be different sections, but it seems as if the section number is used again for that chapter. It’s a bit confusing. I also don’t like that the italicized parts are only at the beginning and the end of the chapters. Other than that, I find the story very interesting to so far. I can’t wait to read the upcoming chapters.

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  4. Upon reading this first section, I would like to take a closer look at the importance of connection in this novel. As Marco Polo is describing these cities to Khan, we see that he uses tremendously long sentences to connect all of his points together. He does so, especially on page 10 when he says this city consists of “relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past: the height of a lamppost ad the distance from the ground of a hanged usurper’s swaying feet; the line strung from the lamppost to the railing opposite and the festoons that decorate the course of the queen’s nuptial processon…” (10). I feel as though all of these interweaving details are not only prevalent in this novel, but also in world literature as a whole. In taking a closer look at how Polo’s sentences are structured, we as readers can analyze the significance behind the author’s syntax and diction.

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  5. To me, this book so far seems like a more interesting version of a history textbook. So far we have learned about a lot of different cities and information regarding these cities and it seemed really similar to learning about history in high school but with more of a narrative style. I think that if textbooks were written like this, as more of a story rather than just facts, they would probably be more well read. I could see a lot of elements of oral story telling in this story so far. It was interesting to be reading about certain stories and traditions that the people talk about have made up the cities we are learning about. One thing that really stuck out to me was the comparison of the city of Zaira compared to a hand. The passage on page 11 reads, “The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand…” I thought that this comparison could work for all cities and other things as well in that we cannot erase the lines and history that makes up the past.

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  6. So far, I am enjoying this book quite a bit. Personally, I like the way it is structured as far as the broken up text and different sections. I also very much enjoy reading about the various cities that Marco Polo describes. My favorite city that we have read about so far is the city of Despina, described on pages 17 and 18. I thought Polo’s explanation of this city was incredibly well-crafted because he described the image of those approaching the city by land as it looking like a ship and the image of those approaching the city by sea as it looking like a camel. This was an intriguing way of talking about a city. I too have often heard of this book, but had no idea this is what it would be like, however, it was a pleasant surprise. I am interested to see where else the story will go.

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  7. I really like that in this class we’ve read books with a variety of different structures from the normal ch1, ch2, ch3 format. This book has a very interesting structure. So far, I do not understand the purpose of describing the cities. I didn’t understand the excerpts about Marco Polo until I read the other comments saying that he is describing the cities to Khan. I know very little about Marco Polo other than that he was an explorer and there’s a show about him on Netflix, so I am excited to read the duration of this novel. I also wonder if it’s entirety is just the description of cities.

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  8. I honestly just don’t understand what perspective this book is trying to take. If the author is trying to write as if he is Marco Polo talking to Kublai Khan, that seems a little pretentious. He basically said that Marco Polo was the best storyteller out of all of Kublai’s traveling advisors. Then he’s writing as if he is him? I just don’t think that the descriptions of the cities are that interesting or unique to be making the connection between Marco Polo’s storytelling and Italo Calvino’s writing. I feel that I need more background on what Calvino was trying to accomplish with this book.

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  9. In reading Invisible Cities I can’t help but to think of Census, Maps, and Museums. In some ways Marco Polo is drawing upon the way we make cities what they are by believing in the signs and cities that exist there. At one point he states that rocks are just rocks, and that is true! We as human beings bring meaning to a geographical location, we create the signs, the symbols, and draw the lines. What I find interesting is that Kahn and Polo do not speak the same language and are from two very different cultures, yet they still find a way to make meaning between one another. In this same way we do this by reading world literature. While at times it may be confusing or we may get lost, we still can draw our own meanings, thoughts, and ideas from what we are experiencing. A large part of this text, to me, seems like it is commenting on the way we make and understand meaning as human beings. I particularly like that through making meaning there is something lost. Polo speaks of words and language having deceit, or hiding something within another thing. He finds sometimes it is easier to describe things through motions or with objects than it is through words. In this way he is arguing that words are limiting and that the conversation is better when they both think in their silence. It is like he is urging you to think outside of the box, and don’t limit yourself to what you already know, allow for things that you don’t know to exist.

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  10. I am not very fond of the way this book is structured. It gets a bit confusing at times so Ive tried to think of it like the reading for last week. It gets confusing when the same section nunbers are used several times. This all makes the story hard to follow. I need a story that has charactors i can relate too, not just a “travelor” or some 3rd person. After reading everyone elses posts, things started to make more sense. Im looking forward to a discussion on this so tgat i can get a better handle on whats going on.

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  11. Is Marco Polo taking notes? I would hope he was. It makes me question where he is traveling because all of these cities sound rich and architecturally intense. I like how Mark and Kahn have this secret language. Marco was sent to be a collector of information but they haven’t yet figured out the best way to communicate on this information.The language barrier doesn’t seem to stop them though. I wonder why they are doing this. Like, is Marco just exploring the empire so that Kahn can understand it better, know who he is getting taxes from? Is Marco a travel agent trying to persuade the emperor to travel or visit these cities? And why do they have to get so philosophical about the travels? Visit, take a couple pictures, buy a t-shirt, and go home

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    1. i wondered alot of these questions myself as i read the novel. I thought whats the point of taking such detailed notes and why spend so much time? How is he getting along with the language barriering at what it is?

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  12. This story (so far) is very interesting in the sense that it almost feels dream-like as you read it. I understand that most of this stems from Marco Polo telling Khan about these illustrious cities and how beautifully picturesque they are, but it almost feels like I have put my head down on a pillow and drifted into an incredible fantasy world where these extraordinary cities exist. I’m sure this is where the title of the novel originates from. “Invisible Cities” could be referencing a multitude of things, but based on the section we have read so far, it seems to be centered around the idea that (to Khan) these outstanding cities are very much invisible and unknown to him. There may not be much of a plot (so far), but the language and tone of voice of the narrator is quite exquisite and does consistently hold your attention, which is always nice.

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  13. So far, I am appreciating the experience of reading this novel an extreme amount. In my opinion the way the text is structured makes it easier to read because its broken up into segments. I also really like reading about the numerous metropolises that Marco illustrates. I feel Polo’s description of the cities were incredibly well explained. I also really liked how he didn’t just explain the cities but some of their culture it made me feel like I was reading a very well written textbook about about old towns. I found it to be very interesting how he talked about each one with such detail and bliss, it made it easy to read, I have heard of this book before in high school out teacher read it aloud to us in 9th grade. But even the second time around I still the recap and its still an amazingly written book.

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  14. Each text we have read in this class has somehow dealt with the notion of colonialism in one way or another, usually the narrators have tried to show some of the negative side effects of colonialism, such as in the case of ‘Our Sister Killjoy’ or ‘where we once belonged’. ‘Invisible Cities’, however, shows the reader a very distinct vision of the imperial mind: from the point of view of the emperor; however, no longer as ambitious a ruler at the decline of his empire as he once was. This is an interesting perspective consider as Polo discusses these cities in a way that seemingly relates to the ‘structures’ of human nature and thought. It is almost as though I understand these cities as a means for understanding Polo and humanity, rather than understanding them literally.

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  15. Like most of my classmates I am intrigued by the structure of this novel. I’m not sure whether I’m going to end up loving or hating it after reading it all though. What I have enjoyed so far is the perspective that’s being taken. I think that’s a very interesting way to tell a story, and it’s one that I wouldn’t have thought of. The idea that the descriptions of the cities can, in a larger scheme, be very similar while the experiences within that city make it unique and wonderful is interesting and I’m hopeful that more connections like this can be made throughout the novel.

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  16. While the way in which Calvino portrays ancient cities may be interesting in the beginning of the novel, it was difficult at first to make the connection as to why these descriptions were necessary, and it was hard to follow along without any main character or plot point involved. After soldiering on through that section, I finally got to the italicized sections in which Marco Polo interacts with Kublani. I really enjoyed reading these portions, as it seemed like an immensely unique twist given to the stories people read about Marco Polo in the history books. I think that this will be neat to read from both Kublani and Marco’s point of view as we continue on with our readings.

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  17. Ok. So this novel happens to be very different from the novels and articles we’ve read read before as far as structure goes anyway. It reminds me somewhat of The Lazarus Project in the fact that it recounts this character’s history through through these different places. However, this novel only seems to talk about the places and not what the character does in them or the journey they take to get to these places. He simply puts emphasis on the cities. I feel that is what has a me a bit confused on what the point of the novel really is. It’s basically an itinerary. An interesting itinerary, but one nonetheless. Also, this structure. Why? Why does it have to written like this? I don’t mind the verse, however I do mind that half the time I don’t who the narrator is or who “you” is or anything. I never know when the narration is going to switch first, second or third person. In that way it’s bit taxing to read this novel, though it still a good and interesting read.

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  18. Punaise, Eole nous gâche un peu le match là. Mais voir Stan et Mikhail -mon petit Woody fils d&9He;3arr#l- et leur magnifique revers à une main me fait déjà plaisir.Ok! Je te break, tu me break…..

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