* NOTICE: Mr. Center's Wall is on indefinite hiatus. Got something to say about it? Click HERE and type.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Take the last part of Isidora and the Greek for god rather than an Egyptian goddess and you've got Dorothea: "Gift from God."  Interesting, the progression of cities and names so far and how their descriptions reflect not only themselves but each other.  As the last city, Isidora, a near-anagram of its predecessor, Diomira, dealt as much with desire as memory and yet was a "City and Memory," does Dorothea, as a "City of Desire" fit the progression?
  1. Compare our introduction to the city of Dorothea--the opening lines--to that of the first two cities.
  2. Similarly, is there a negative aftertaste here as previously?
  3. Clearly Dorothea is a desirable city.  Is there a thematic issue of memory to go with it, as the Cities of Memory had both memory and desire, though the latter left untitled, and if so, how/where?
  4. Invisible Cities appears to deal with some big philosophy: cities, desire, memory, time, deity....  Another shows up here: paths.  These are similar issues, though in even smaller literary contexts, as those treated by Jorge Luis Borges.  What's the draw for the author?  What's the draw for the reader?  
  5. So the two ways of describing Dorothea: the one is to describe it physically--its architecture and its citizens and their activity; the second is what?  (Notice, by the way, that this second "way" begins much more like the first two cities.)  Apparently connected to the definition of this "way," what has happened to Dorothea in the years since the camel driver's initial visit in his "first youth"?
There is always room to comment on something that I don't mention in the questions.  Where poetry is concerned, any single mind--or mine at least--will always miss something.


  1. 1. It seems that Diomira and Dorothea center on the city in the first line, while Isidora is about the traveler.
    2. Hmm. Not sure. The last line is really hard to figure out. I THINK that he likes the city, but the last line also seemed to suggest (at least to me) that he realizes that what he thought was the end of some sort of quest was only one chance result to something that could have gone a number of ways.
    3. I think that it's a desirable city for a youth, but maybe when you're the age of the man mentioned, it's just memory.
    4. I think that it's sort of a metaphor for the human experience. Depending on one's desire, one can take plenty paths in life to achieve it, sometimes even taking different paths to achieve the same desire.
    5. The second at first seems to be salvation, but then perhaps it ultimately disappoints? Or ends up being just a means to a different sort of salvation?

  2. 1. On the physical end, in the first two, there's movement into or toward the city. For Dorothea, Polo just jumps right into the description.
    2. Yeah. The line is really enigmatic, and therefore, like Dorothea itself--and all the cities so far--very subject to the personal perspective.. I like how you mention "quest." Dorothea is a city of plenty, and perhaps the camel diver's quest was to find just one thing. Over the years that pass (I guess I'm taking a more positive side--and maybe I'm wrong) he realizes there's so much more here than the one thing he sought initially.
    3. Like maybe lost/missed opportunities? He's not a citizen, or native, of the city, so maybe all that the city offers can't be had for him. Maybe this is the negativity.
    4. Boy, if we can't take different paths to the same end, I'm toast!
    5. I get the impression that now he's in the city, and has been for some time, he longs for the open road again--a reversal, then, of the first way. Also, the nubile girls and the fine teeth will look very different to young man who first arrives than to an old man who's watched it consistently for years.

    I wish I had this in Italian. I'm interested in Calvino's word choice for way and path. They can be, but aren't necessarily, related....


Be sure to subscribe to the thread to receive discussion updates.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...