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In Italo Calvino’s Invincible Cities, the author presents a series of description of fifty-five cities. One of the cities is that of Zobeide. This city is described as being white with streets going round themselves. This city is open and well exposed to the moon giving an impression of a city where a lot of infrastructural investment and advancement have been realized. The origin of the city is from a dream shared by men from different nations. These men converged together because of a dream in which they were chasing a beautiful naked woman in the streets of a magnificent city. They later decided to lay the foundations of the city as seen in the dream.
The people of this city are expected to be full of love as depicted by these men. The men portrayed pursue a woman to no avail. When building the city as seen in the dream, they each pursue the route they had used to follow the woman. On reaching where the woman had disappeared, they build them differently from the dream to prevent her from escaping if she shows up again. Calvino insists, “…they changed the positions of arcades and stairways to resemble more closely the path of the pursued woman and so, at the spot where she had vanished, there would remain no avenue of escape…” (45). This implies that the greatest fear of the people is loosing love from their loved ones, compatriots and anything they hold dear.
They are also optimistic since they hope to see the woman again. Their anxiety is demonstrated in the statement, “…city of Zobeide, where they settled, waiting for that scene to be repeated one night. None of them, asleep or awake, ever saw the woman again…” (45). Because of this optimism, they constructed the spot where she had disappeared from differently. The belief of the people of this city would be that dreams are a manifestation of future events. This city relates to Khan’s empire in that, it is where people, who relocate to other places, in search of work, or taken as slaves, originate. This can be deduced from the fact that they do not return. Indeed, Calvino explains that the, “…city exists, and it has a little secret: it knows only departures, not returns…” (56). This, though, is disappointing to Khan, since he believes his empire is a prosperous one and every city should be flourishing. He wonders to Polo, “…Why do you linger over inessential melancholies? Why do you hide from the emperor the grandeur of his destiny…?” (60).