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Publisher's Summary

In a garden sit the aged Kublai Khan and the young Marco Polo - Tartar emperor and Venetian traveler. Kublai Khan has sensed the end of his empire coming soon. Marco Polo diverts the emperor with tales of the cities he has seen in his travels around the empire: cities and memory, cities and desire, cities and designs, cities and the dead, cities and the sky, trading cities, hidden cities. Soon it becomes clear that each of these fantastic places is really the same place.
©1972 Giulio Einaudi Editore (P)2013 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"Of all tasks, describing the contents of a book is the most difficult and in the case of a marvelous invention like Invisible Cities, perfectly irrelevant." (Gore Vidal)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By David on 10-04-16

Beautiful prose poems read too quickly

Invisible Cities is a perfect book, endlessly beautiful and thought-provoking. It can be read many times and you'll find new jewels in it every time.

I usually like John Lee, but he reads this book too quickly. It needed to be treated as poetry more than prose. Eventually I discovered that if I slowed the playback down to x0.75 speed my experience was much improved. It made Lee sound a little pompous, but at least he now seemed to be savouring every word. This is my advice to you!

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Mel on 07-09-13

Magical Mystery Tour

Less a book than a series of prose-like poems, where language seems a magical tool that paints landscapes and cityscapes not confined by just what is known or possible. The words flow through your mind and spark the imagination, leading the listener on a guided imagery trip through worlds that seem suspended in another dimension and time. It is like a fabulous dessert -- it needs to be experienced, savored, and languished over. Originally published in 1972 with a cover that depicted a city of stone towers that rise from a large floating rock above an ocean; a picture that teased and hinted at what was inside (I still own my original dog-eared copy). There is no plot -- but plot seems irrelevant as you listen to Marco Polo conjure up cities that float between webs, joyous carnival cities, serious cities where no one makes eye contact or speaks, cities that you won't be returning to, "this is a city just for leaving," all to entertain the aging Kublai Khan. He creates his own cities that might dwell in his empire, asking Polo if he has seen these in his travels. You ponder the meaning of the words as they are used in this game between the two men, as well as the structure of the cities and their purpose. Reading this was wonderful; listening is another experience altogether. Close your eyes and experience a journey. Very short, just over 2 hours; something I will leave on my ipod and listen to again, like a beautiful and creative guided meditation.

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29 of 33 people found this review helpful

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