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Thursday, June 2, 2011


Despina, from the Greek Despoina: for "mistress" or "lady," also a Greek goddess of mysteries, and only to those initiated to her cult would be revealed her true name, whatever it was.  Finally (and does this at all connect to the Mary/Jesus reference in Zaira?) Despoina is also what the Orthodox Catholic Church names The Mother of God.
  1. The first paragraph offers no immediate surprises.  Different approaches to any one thing show different faces, of course.  But how beautiful Calvino renders it!  The camel driver thinks of it as the approach to a ship carrying him from the desert, and the sailor pictures the stability of terra firma and all its luxuries unavailable at sea.  Describe, or define, in terms of desire the intentional self-deceit of the sailor and the driver, though they know it's a city.  Does this connect somehow to the name?
  2. Like the last city, Despina seems more conceptual, and therefor less connected in some existential (or whatever) way to its name and the reader and... oh, I don't know.  What do you think? 
  3. What do you make of the seemingly anachronistic technology?


  1. Interesting on the name. Not sure how it fits in right now, but I wonder if there's something to it.

    1. Perhaps the city is a bit of a seductress.
    2. Not sure I understand. Could you explain?
    3. Holy crap. You're right. I didn't even notice this. Does it make any sense? Is science mystery? I have a hard time believing that this could be an error.

  2. 1. Maybe. I didn't notice religious undercurrents on the first pass. I'm paying attention now and wondering how/if they'll fit together in the end.
    2. I don't know how to put it, really. The first few cities seemed to work on their own, apart from everything else. These two come across so much more as just concepts slightly fleshed out. They fit with the rest, but they are much more abstract.
    3. Certainly not a mistake. The details are too carefully placed. I don't remember if there is any more of this through the book. It seems very "wink, wink" here on Calvino's part.


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