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In the Sixth Chapter of Invisible Cities, Corvino reveals in the framing sequence that Marco Polo has avoiding telling Kublai Khan about Venice so as to retain its memory perfectly in his mind, because “memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased”. The next city is “Esmeralda, city of water, a network of canals and a network of streets”, certainly reminiscent of the popular ideas of Venice. The next city is Phyllis, wherein “you rejoice in observing all the bridges over the canals”, once again calling similarities to Venice’s most well-known feature. In this way, the cities become less about fanciful fables to entertain the Khan, and more about how the cities differ from Polo’s home city, and why. Were the earlier cities nearly devoid of canals to comment on their mythical “otherness”, or was it only to prolong his own memories of Venice, because “perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little”. Is Venice the “city too probable to exist”, spoken of in earlier chapters, as Marco Polo’s mind is filled with images of the other, improbable cities he has visited to report to the Khan?

-Ziah Grace

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