In Praise Of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki: Review

An essay on aesthetics by the Japanese novelist, this book explores architecture, jade, food, and even toilets, combining an acute sense of the use of space in buildings. The book also includes descriptions of laquerware under candlelight and women in the darkness of the house of pleasure.

Are you looking for a book that will transport you to otherworldly places and make you question the very nature of reality? Look no further than Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. This beautifully written novel takes you on a journey through the mind of Marco Polo as he recounts his travels to the great emperor Kublai Khan.

Calvino’s writing style is both poetic and precise, drawing you into each city described with vivid detail. But this is not just a simple travelogue; rather, Calvino uses each city as a metaphor for different aspects of human experience, exploring themes such as memory, desire, and death. As you delve deeper into the book, you’ll find yourself questioning what is real and what is imagined, and even reevaluating your own perceptions of the world around you. So come along on this journey with Marco Polo – who knows where it might take you?

Overview of Invisible Cities

You’re about to embark on a journey through the pages of Invisible Cities, where you’ll be transported to different cities that exist only in the minds of Marco Polo and Emperor Kublai Khan. As you delve deeper into this novel, you’ll find that each city is a symbol representing various aspects of cultural diversity. The cities act as a metaphor for the human experience; each one unique but sharing similarities with others.

Through his writing style, Calvino explores themes such as identity, memory, and imagination. He also uses city symbolism to showcase how different cultures can coexist peacefully while still maintaining their individuality. As you read through each chapter, take note of how these themes are explored and intertwined with the descriptions of each city.

Invisible Cities not only tells the story of Marco Polo’s adventures but it also encourages readers to question their own perceptions and beliefs about culture and identity. With every page turn, you’ll discover something new about yourself and the world around you. So let’s dive in together and explore the hidden depths of Invisible Cities!

Themes Explored in Invisible Cities

If you thought that a book about cities could only be mundane, think again because Invisible Cities is a fantastical journey through the imagination of Italo Calvino. One of the central themes explored in this novel is the exploration of imagination. Calvino depicts cities as being both real and imaginary, with each city representing an aspect of human experience. Through his vivid descriptions, he invites readers to expand their imaginations beyond what they may have previously believed possible.

Another theme that runs throughout Invisible Cities is the representation of cities themselves. Calvino creates a world where each city has its own unique character and personality, from the bustling metropolis to the deserted ghost town. He shows how a city can be both beautiful and ugly at the same time, offering readers a complex view of urban life. This representation challenges our preconceptions about cities and forces us to see them in new ways.

Overall, Invisible Cities is an insightful exploration into the power of imagination and how it shapes our perceptions of the world around us. Through his use of imagery and symbolism, Calvino takes readers on a journey through fantastical landscapes that challenge our understanding of what it means to live in a city. It’s an engaging read for anyone seeking liberation from conventional thinking about urban life. As we move onto discussing style and writing techniques in this novel, keep in mind how these themes are reflected in every aspect of Calvino’s prose.

Style and Writing Techniques

Get ready to be captivated by the unique writing style and techniques employed by Italo Calvino in his masterpiece, Invisible Cities. The author uses metaphors extensively throughout the book, creating imagery that is both vivid and thought-provoking. Instead of describing cities in a literal sense, he uses metaphorical language to convey deeper meanings about life, love, and human nature. For example, when Marco Polo describes the city of Ersilia as “a spider’s web suspended over an abyss,”readers can interpret this as a commentary on the fragile nature of human relationships.

Calvino also employs an unconventional narrative structure in Invisible Cities. Rather than following a traditional linear plotline, each chapter explores a different aspect of human existence through the lens of various imaginary cities visited by Marco Polo. The chapters are organized around themes such as memory, desire, and death, rather than chronology or geography. This allows readers to experience these themes from different perspectives and gain new insights into their own lives.

Overall, Calvino’s unique writing style and narrative structure make Invisible Cities a captivating read that encourages readers to think deeply about the world around them. By exploring complex ideas through metaphorical language and non-linear storytelling techniques, he challenges readers to question their assumptions about reality and consider alternative ways of viewing the world. In the next section we will analyze selected chapters from this literary masterpiece to further understand its depth and complexity without losing sight of its beauty.

Analysis of Selected Chapters

Explore the intricate themes and symbolic meanings woven into Calvino’s prose as you delve deeper into the selected chapters of Invisible Cities. The author uses vivid descriptions and symbolic imagery to create a thought-provoking narrative that invites readers to question their own cultural significance. For instance, in the chapter “Isidora,”Calvino describes a city where every object is made entirely of glass. This is a metaphor for how society often values superficial beauty over substance, leading individuals to become fragile like glass.

Another notable chapter is “Eudoxia,”which depicts a city that exists only in the imagination of its inhabitants. This chapter explores the power of imagination and how it influences our perception of reality. It also touches on the idea that our personal experiences shape our understanding of the world around us. Through this chapter, Calvino challenges readers to consider how much of their own reality is shaped by their thoughts and beliefs.

Overall, these selected chapters showcase Calvino’s ability to use storytelling as a means for exploring complex philosophical concepts. As you read through these chapters, take note of how each city represents something greater than itself and consider what message Calvino may be trying to convey about humanity as a whole. With each turn of phrase, he invites us to reflect on our own lives and encourages us towards self-discovery.

As we move onto personal impressions and reflections on Invisible Cities, keep in mind the symbolic imagery and cultural significance present throughout the novel.

Personal Impressions and Reflections

Upon reading the selected chapters, you might be struck by how Calvino’s use of symbolism and metaphor challenges your own perceptions of reality. In ‘Isidora,’ for example, do we often value superficial beauty over substance in our own lives? This chapter prompts us to reflect on our own values and priorities. Similarly, in ‘Eudoxia,’ to what extent does our imagination shape our understanding of the world around us? This chapter highlights the role that perception plays in shaping our experiences.

As you delve deeper into the book, you will find that each city is more than just a physical location; it reflects different aspects of human nature and emotions. The cities evoke different feelings and moods in readers – some are melancholic while others are enchanting. This emotional impact is what makes this book stand out from others. You may find yourself moved by certain descriptions or events, while interpreting them differently from other readers.

Ultimately, what makes ‘Invisible Cities’ such an intriguing read is its open-endedness – it allows for multiple interpretations and encourages readers to think beyond the surface level. Each reader brings their unique perspective to these cities, making it a personal journey as much as a literary one. Calvino’s masterful use of language creates vivid images that linger long after you finish reading the book. It is an experience that stays with you even after you put down the book – a testament to its enduring power as a work of literature.


Overall, reading Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities is a thought-provoking and immersive experience. Through the imaginative descriptions of cities and their inhabitants, Calvino explores themes of identity, memory, perception, and reality. His unique writing style and use of literary techniques such as repetition and symbolism add depth to the narrative.

One example that particularly resonated with me was the chapter on Zobeide, the city with no center. The description of the city’s labyrinthine streets and its residents’ search for its elusive center speaks to our own human desire for meaning and purpose in life. This chapter forces us to question whether we are always searching for something that may not even exist or if the journey itself is what gives our lives meaning.

In conclusion, Invisible Cities is a must-read for anyone interested in exploring philosophical concepts through literature. Its vivid imagery and profound insights will leave a lasting impression on readers long after they have finished it.

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