Erasing the Invisible Cities: Italo Calvino and the Violence of Representation

John Welsh, University of Virginia

The unabashed “literariness” of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities makes it an easy target for critics who claim that “wholly literary” worlds cannot be moral ones. Alessia Ricciardi believes that Calvino’s late career represents an abandonment of his earlier sense of duty as an intellectual: “Sadly,” she explains “Calvino the mature postmodernist became exactly what he feared as a young man, that is to say, a solipsistic thinker removed from the exigencies of history […] his writings uphold an idea of literature as a formalist game that avoids any costly or serious ‘human’ association.” (Ricciardi 1073-1074, emphasis mine). While it is certainly true that Invisible Cities—with its combinatorial, “geometric” structure—can be read as a literary game, it is important to consider the possibility that it may be a very serious game.

Read the rest of the article at



Filed under Issue 2, Volume 1

2 responses to “Erasing the Invisible Cities: Italo Calvino and the Violence of Representation

  1. i like d articals very much

  2. ray

    HI John – Im studying landscape architecture, and have to produce a model of one of the chapters from invisible ciites. i choose chp 3 city of Baucais, my tutor just critiscised me for interpreting things to literally,(we are expected to interpret the abstract, basically is the motto) for instance the tutor said maybe this could be the idea of seeing thw world thru the eyes of a mouse for this particular city, am finding this one difficult, any advice? ray

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s