Le Città Invisibili Character Analysis

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In Calvino’s Le città invisibili the Chinese emperor Kublai Khan is unable to keep track of his expanding and also decaying empire and so he sends a traveller, Marco Polo to visit the cities. Marco Polo travels to fifty cities in the empire and returns to describe the cities to the Khan. Le città invisibili is a fragmented text in which there are two levels; one is the italicised dialogue between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo and the other is Marco Polo’s description of the cities. In this novel Calvino evokes feelings of “nostalgia for lost illusions, loves that never quite were, happiness perhaps only tasted” (Bloom, 2002) The male point of view predominates in Calvino’s Le città invisibili. In this novel the city is a metaphor for the…show more content…
The main characters of the text are both male and so it is once again the male point of view that holds sway. The women outside of the italicised dialogues are very much secondary, like Domitilla, and are not allowed to participate in the discussion of knowledge and power between these intellectuals. While there are 55 cities described the physical presence of women only appears in 25 descriptions in which they are nothing more than a peripheral part of the city like inanimate objects. The women found in these cities have no voices of their own and there is no dialogue between the cities’ women and the traveller. The women are allowed vocal presence on just three occasions throughout the text, but still this is not for the purpose of interaction with men. The traveller hears “donne che cicalano intrecciando tappeti di raffia”(Calvino, 1972) in the city of “Olivia”, which is nothing more to the traveler than an impersonal and indistinguishable noise. In “Diomira” when the traveller walks by a terrace he hears the sound of a woman’s voice crying “ooh” leaving him with feelings of nostalgia. In the city of “Armilla” the traveller watches the female water nymphs “che si crogiolano nelle vasche da bagno, che si inarcano sotto le docce” while he heard them singing in the morning. The lack of personal reaction exhibited between the traveller and the women reduces them to background noise or sexual
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