Written originally in Italian and translated into English by William Weaver, this book of fiction is about fictional cities that Marco Polo conjures up and tells the Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan.But gradually it becomes clear and Calvino tells the readers through Marco Polo that he was actually describing only one city :Venice.
I must confess that it is one of those works , which make a clear impression on our minds that it is a great book that one has read , but which needs to be read again , to be fully understood.It also taught me how to look at and understand a city , in all its perspectives which are too many and complex.
I quote a few lines from this immortal classic:
1."With cities,it is as with dreams.Everything imaginable can be dreamed,but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or ,its reverse, a fear.Cities ,like dreams, are made of desires and fears,even if the thread of their discourse is secret,their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful,and everything conceals something else.(Page 44).
2."Why do you speak to me of stones?It is only the arch that matters to me.Polo answers:"Without stones , there is no arch."(Page 82).
3."The inferno of the living is not something that will be:if there is one,it is what is already here,the inferno where we live everyday,that we form by being together.There are two ways to escape suffering it.The first is easy for many:accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it.The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension:seek and learn to recognize who and what,in the midst of inferno,are not inferno,then make them endure,give them space.(Final paragraph).
I recommend you to read these 148 pages of subtle and beautiful meditation.