Italo Calvino. The Complete Cosmicomics. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. $24.00. Call (504) 524-2940 or visit us to purchase a copy!
This beautiful new edition of Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics brings together all of the Cosmicomics for the first time in one place, including a few stories that have never before been translated into English. If you have never read these stories before, you are in for a treat: Calvino’s vision of a primordial universe as playground for his protagonist Qfwfq is transportative. We follow Qfwfq and his friends from the Big Bang through to the creation of life on earth and evolution. One of the most beautiful stories is the first, “The Distance of the Moon,” in which Qfwfq remembers when the moon passed so close to earth that he and his companions would take a boat out to the sea and climb a ladder to its surface. He tells us,
On those nights the water was very calm, so silvery it looked like mercury,
and the fish in it, violet-coloured, unable to resist the Moon’s attraction,
rose to the surface, all of them, and so did the octopuses and the saffron
medusas. There was always a flight of tiny creatures–little crabs, squid, and
even some weeds, light and filmy, and coral plants–that broke from the
sea and ended up on the Moon, hanging down from that lime-white ceiling,
or else they stayed in midair, a phosphorescent swarm we had to drive off,
waving banana leaves at them.
Calvino’s prose is where poetry and science mingle, and these stories, collected for the first time in their entirety, tell not only of the creation of the universe, but of love and loss. These tales are richly imagined, and the stunning images of the early universe as envisioned by Calvino will stay with you for a long, long time.