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Library: Zobeide


Author: Darshan
Date:Jun 17 2001

"From there, after six days and seven nights, you arrive at Zobeide, the
white city, well exposed to the moon, with streets wound about themselves
as in a skein. They tell this tale of its foundation: men of various nations
had an identical dream. They saw a woman running at night through an unknown
city; she was seen from behind, with long hair, and she was naked. They
dreamed of pursuing her. As they twisted and turned, each of them lost her.
After the dream, they set out in search of that city; they never found it,
but they found one another; they decided to build a city like the one in the

In laying out the streets, each followed the course of his pursuit; at the
spot where they had lost the fugitive's trail, they arranged spaces and walls
differently from the dream, so she would be unable to escape again. This was
the city of Zobeide, where they settled, waiting for that scene to be
repeated one night.

None of them, asleep or awake, ever saw the woman again. The city's streets
were streets where they went to work every day, with no link any more to the
dreamed chase. Which, for that matter, had long been forgotten. New men
arrived from other lands, having had a dream like theirs, and in the city of
Zobeide, they recognized something from the streets of the dream, and they
changed the positions of arcades and stairways to resemble more closely the
path of the pursued woman and so, at the spot where she had vanished, there
would remain no avenue of escape. The first to arrive could not understand
what drew these people to Zobeide, this ugly city, this trap."

                              Italo Calvino, "Invisible Cities"