An unpublished part of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities

Beyond the sixth river, there is a strange city (Mary, nicknamed « Bloody – Mary ») that celebrates death. Not all the deaths, but the violent deaths. And the criminals. The imprudent traveler who has worn his footsteps so far will meet people with sinister faces, revolvers hidden in the thickness of the raincoats, razor blades against their wet thighs, cyanide bulbs glued under the tongue… But even more than these evil encounters, it is the onomastic that astonishes the perigrine: Brutus avenue, Cain square, Lucheni high school, Ravaillac and Damiens streets, etc.

The architecture is not inspired by Hippodamos de Milet, it does not respect the organization of medieval streets and old Roman roads. No Freemason symbol concealed in alignments and crossings in compass and square, no. But the one who would have taken a little height, the one who would land at Joseph Mengele International Airport would see wide avenues whose curves look like they are mistaken with a guillotine, a yard reproducing the unpleasant shape of a bayonet, a walk for children’s tricycles or the wheelchairs of old men whose course is that of a hanged rope. Death is everywhere, it is not the devil who is nestled in the least detail, it is death, universal death, the only, the true, the unique.

In this city, doing evil is a good thing, and one recompenses with a school prize the one who best plants his compass in the hand of their neighbor… In this city, no death is natural, no nature is not benevolent, no grass grows without blood.

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