Space as a Semiotic Object: A Three-Dimensional Model of Vertical Structure of Space in Calvino’s Invisible Cities

Document Type : Research Article


English Department, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran


Following the “spatial turn” of the last 3 decades in humanities and social sciences and the structure of semiotic object, this research studies space as the main semiotic object of Calvino’s (1972) Invisible Cities. Significance of this application resides in examining the possibility of providing a more concrete methodology based on the integration of Zoran’s (1984) 3 vertical levels of constructing space and Hrushovski’s (1979) 3-dimensional model of the structure of semiotic object in the space-oriented plot of Calvino’s (1972) novel. In fact, the topographic, chronotopic, and textual levels of space are respectively studied in association with the dimensions of meaning and reference, organized text, and speech and position. It is also suggested that for studying all the vertical levels of space in Invisible Cities as well as all other literary texts, the 3 aspects of textual levels including the selectivity of language, the linearity of the text and the latter’s perspective are respectively reflected in the structure of space at the topographic, chronotopic, and textual levels.


Calvino, I. (1972). Invisible cities. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Genette, G. (1972). Narrative discourse: An essay in method. Ithaca and New York: Cornell University Press.
Herman, D., Manfred, J., & Marie-Laure, R. (2010). Routledge encyclopedia of narrative theory. London and New York: Routledge Publications.
Hrushovski, B. (1979). The structure of semiotic objects: A three-dimensional model. Poetics Today, 1(1-2), 363-376.
McHale, B. (1987). Postmodernist fiction. London and New York: Routledge Publications.
Pavel, T. (1981). Fiction and the ontological landscapes. Studies in 20th Century Literature, 6(1), 149-163.
Ronen, R. (1986). Space in fiction. Poetics Today, 7(3), 421-438.
Todorov, T. (1981). Mikhail Bakhtin: The dialogical principle. United Kingdom: Manchester University Press.
Todorov, T. (1970). The fantastic: A structural approach to a literary genre. Ithaca and New York: Cornell University Press.
Zoran, G. (1984). Towards a theory of space in narrative. Poetics Today, 5(2), 309-335.