I have been thinking a lot recently about Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (1972). It is pretty common to see the last lines of the book quoted, the part where Marco says to the Great Khan,
seek and learn to recognize, who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, and help them endure, give them space.
I want to try to understand that line in the context of the book as a whole, and also to draw connections between the book and Henri Lefebvre’s Urban Revolution, which is a seminal book for me, and which was published in 1970, two years before Invisible Cities.
Calvino’s book is framed by a conversation between Marco Polo and the Great Khan. The Great Khan has asked Marco to travel through his empire, examine its cities, and describe them to him. Marco’s tales are wonderful to read for their poetry…
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