This is end of the first chapter. (Duh.) How have your thoughts/opinions of the book changed since the opening scene and the first city or sp? For me, the timing of this exchange and its revelation was perfect. While I was very much enjoying the city-to-city descriptions and the poetry of Calvino's assemblages up to this point, I needed either something to happen or a substance-changing revelation, and I got it. Also, I really appreciate Calvino's use of form here, as this final bit is very much like the last sentence or two of each vignette and the framework those sentences offer for the rest of that city. This final ..... gives context for the preceding cities, all the way back to first. But poetry is such a personal thing. I could easily be seeing this in a way that you don't. Thoughts?
- "The emperor is he who is a foreigner to each of his subjects."
- All the cities have a mythic/fairytale grandeur and vagueness. How is this explained or justified by the situation of the Khan and Polo's difficulty in language? How does this news--the language differences--turn on its head everything we've read so far? From whom are we getting the stories of the cities: the firsthand of Polo, or the secondhand of Kublai Khan?
- "Everything Marco displayed had the power of emblems, which, once seen, cannot be forgotten or confused." Hmm. Sounds a little bit like Zora and Zirma.
- "Perhaps ... the empire is nothing but a zodiac of the mind's phantasms."
- And what of having to know something before being able to possess it, as the Khan asks in the final enigmatic exchange? This, too, sounds very much like some of issues we've been dealing with.
- So Polo eventually masters the Khan's language. Does this mean the rest of the cities we encounter throughout the book will not be subject to the same misinterpretation? (And about "misinterpretation": are the Khan's interpretations of Polo's descriptions wrong or inaccurate?)