The opening sentence continues to emphasize the deconstrivist motif of the entire book (and, again, such an Umberto-Eco, at least as far as this blog is concerned, kind of motif it is), that words [or signs] and the things they represent are not necessarily the same thing--they occupy different spaces--though, as Polo tells the emperor, there is a connection between the two.
- Is there a theme or plot-device (as it were) tying together each of the chapters? If so, what's going on in chapter 4?
- Does Olivia exist?
- "If there really were an Olivia of mullioned windows and peacocks, ... it would be a wretched, black, fly-ridden hole....": why? The literalist in me wants to say that, well, there must be a natural hierarchy supporting any wealthy city, that below the luscious green apex with its mansions and gold filigree and white peacocks, must be churning away a massive mechanism of industry with all its accompanying soot and slag. I don't know if this is what Calvino's getting at. Is he being less literal, more figurative?
- And I just can't wrap my brain around the last sentence. The abstraction is too much for me. What do you make of it?