Kublai Kan, Possible Worlds and the Medacity of Fiction

Marina Polacco


In Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino questions the status of literary fiction, between truth, falsehood and possible worlds. Having faced the impasse of a mimetic vision of literature, and of a manichean distinction between ‘true’ and ‘false’ fictions, Marco Polo avoids the risk of annihilation by creating a Heterocosm, in which the oppositions real/unreal and true/false can be completely disarmed. The dialogue between Marco and Kublai Kan keeps coming back to the same questions: what is the relationship between cities existing on maps, cities created through a narrative, and narrated cities which pretend to reproduce real cities? And what is the whole point in describing cities, be them visible or invisible? Considering literary universes as fictional objects (grounded in alternative realities which are self-sufficient and yet variously connected to real places and objects, historical people and events) does not imply denying their truth value and their cognitive function in relation to our world, the one in which we live and act, or which is our immediate past or possible future. As people keep inventing and telling fiction, we must ackowledge their value for our lives in the real world.


Calvino; Fictional Worlds; Fiction; Theory of Fiction; Novel; World Literature; Textuality; Lies; Utopia

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/3849

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-25598

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