Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Invisible Cities: Introduction
Invisible Cities: Plot Summary
Invisible Cities: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Invisible Cities: Themes
Invisible Cities: Quotes
Invisible Cities: Characters
Invisible Cities: Symbols
Invisible Cities: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Italo Calvino
Historical Context of Invisible Cities
Other Books Related to Invisible Cities
- Full Title: Invisible Cities (originally published in Italian as Le città invisibili)
- When Written: 1971
- Where Written: Paris, France
- When Published: 1972
- Literary Period: Postmodernism
- Genre: Travel Novel; Philosophical Novel
- Setting: Ostensibly Kublai Khan’s court in the Mongol Empire
- Climax: Marco Polo admits that he’s talking about Venice
- Antagonist: There’s no clear-cut antagonist, but Calvino suggests that what plagues cities are corruption, capitalism, and greed.
- Point of View: The conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan are in the third person and in the form of a dramatic script; Polo’s recollections are in first person.
Extra Credit for Invisible Cities
Special Privileges. From 1959-1960, Calvino spent six months in the United States—despite tight U.S. restrictions against allowing individuals with communist views into the country.
Opera. Several cities in Invisible Cities inspired an experimental opera produced in 2013. It was performed in an open and operating train station, and performers were stationed throughout the space while audience members wore headphones and could travel around the station as they pleased.