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Dialoguing with the World: Xue Yiwei and His Traveling with Marco Polo


This essay introduces the author Xue Yiwei and his Traveling with Marco Polo, a creative collection that dialogues with Invisible Cities by the postmodern Italian writer Italo Calvino. While Calvino imagines a young Marco Polo describing the fantastic sights of fifty-five cities to an aging Kublai Khan, Xue Yiwei joins the conversation and provides a meticulous explication of each one of Calvino’s cities. Furthermore, Traveling with Marco Polo expands the imaginary cityscapes to include oblique commentaries on the past, present, and future of China as well as the profound meditation on the city as a microcosm of our world. The result is a daring literary experiment that is representative of Xue’s oeuvre overall: at once giving a powerful literary representation of modern Chinese history while engaging in dialogue with writers from all over the world.

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