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Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino

Cosmicomics (edition 1968)

by Italo Calvino

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2,339312,691 (4.08)63
Authors:Italo Calvino
Info:Harcourt Brace & World (1968), 153 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Italian literature

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Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino


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A curious collection of short fantasies which feature anthropomorphized sub-atomic particles, cellular structures and prehistoric life forms, as they exhibit all-too-human emotions and motivations as they meander through and manipulate space and time and matter and energy. Think of it as a universe where everything that exists is animated, intelligent and has recognizably human agendas. Interesting and entertaining, but not something I'd be inclined to read again someday. ( )
  burnit99 | Jul 6, 2014 |
Just finished the first story, about the Earth and the Moon and longing and elliptical orbits and desire, and I'm both charmed and thrilled already.


Now, having finished the collection, I'm glad to report that many of the stories that followed that one are just as curious, amusing, and odd as the first. Not all of them achieve equal levels of excellence, but there are enough such stories to make the read worthwhile.

The characters in these stories are elementary particles, equations, and principles of physics. Also a dinosaur and evolving fish making the transition to landside locomotion.

On occasion the attempts to convey concepts on a universal scale or to describe essential existential watersheds grow tiresome, but Calvino is so adept at humanizing his characters--including the multitude who live in cramped quarters in a single, pre Big Bang point--that his tales always take on the pleasant shades of fable. They may dwell on the expansion of space the the effects of gravity, but they are at heart tender stories. Even when describing the first dawn or the moment that the abyss unveiled the notion of color, they speak about love, loss, and longing. ( )
  phredfrancis | Feb 8, 2014 |
A co-worker who majored in Liberal Arts recommended this book that she read in her Italian Lit class. It was described as “super funny”. In my first attempt to read it, I quit in the first chapter. The story of when the moon was so close to earth that people would jump back and forth between earth and the moon seemed too absurd. Many years later, I made a second effort, and this time found the entire book great (even “super funny”). Each chapter begins with a short description of a modern scientific discovery or theory. These are from various scientific fields: astronomy, biology, paleontology, etc. Then the narrator, who is often human-like, but usually not quite human, launches into an “eye-witness” account which, in his opinion apparently, validates and clarifies the abstract scientific explanation. It is like the author is trying to create new mythology that includes modern man's expanded understanding of the Universe. But it is done with a lot of humor and obviously is not meant to be taken too seriously. My favorite chapters were The Dinosaurs, because it was a little darker than the other chapters, and the final chapter, The Spiral. The Spiral is the best in the book, in my opinion, because it summarizes the ideas that the author has been trying to convey in the preceding chapters. ( )
  dougb56586 | Feb 1, 2014 |
I might follow the Even Cleveland bookclub at a remove of several hundred miles.
  amelish | Sep 12, 2013 |
Who needs the bible with this book out? Cosmicomics is the history of the entire world done with creativity, humor, and common sense. Calvino is an absolute master at his craft and this book showcases all his talent. This is a must read. ( )
1 vote ralphadelic | Jun 16, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Italo Calvinoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weaver, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Una volta, secondo Sir George H. Darwin, la Luna era molto vicina alla Terra. Furono le maree che a poco a poco la spinsero lontano: le maree che lei Luna provoca nelle acque terrestri e in cui la Terra perde lentamente energia.
At one time, according to Sir George H. Darwin, the Moon was very close to the Earth. Then the tides gradually pushed her far away: the tides that the Moon herself causes in the Earth’s waters, where the Earth slowly loses energy.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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There is a later, expanded work "Complete Cosmicomics" / Tutte le cosmicomiche" that contains significant amount of material that does not exist in this, original edition. Please keep the different editions separate.
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Book description
Colección de todas las cosmicómicas escritas por Italo Calvino.

Table of

The distance of the moon --At daybreak --A sign in space --All at one point --Without colors --Games without end --The aquatic uncle --How much shall we bet? --The dinosaurs --The form of space --The light-years --The spiral.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156226006, Paperback)

An enchanting series of stories about the evolution of the universe. Calvino makes characters out of mathematical formulae and simple cellular structures. They disport themselves amongst galaxies, experience the solidification of planets, move from aquatic to terrestrial existence, play games with hydrogen atoms -- and have time for a love life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:33 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Summary: Eric Hobsbawm traces with brilliant anlytical clarity the transformation brought about in every sphere of European life by the Dual revolution - the 1789 French revolution and the Industrial Revolution that originated in Britain. (From back cover)… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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