Saturday, February 21, 2015

An Addendum to the “Knee – Jerk Reaction”

A Knee-Jerk Reaction

Adore = admire, be crazy about, be gone on, be mad for, be nuts about, be serious about, be smitten with, be stuck on, be sweet on, be wild about, cherish, delight in, dig*, dote on, esteem, exalt, fall for, flip over, glorify, go for, honour, idolize, prize, revere, reverence, treasure, venerate. Yes I love this Collection of tales ‘n’ whimsy, this was a reread, I read some of these stories a good few years ago as Cosmicomics & this complete collection, with all Italo Calvino’s tales gathered up for our delight, doesn't disappoint - in fact this is one of the most joyful books I've read in a long time, just love it.

The Addendum
I started this book in the closing days of January, thinking that this was a reread of a book that I had first read & adored sometime in my teenage years, I realised rapidly that what I had actually read was Cosmicomics which makes up part of this books & gives the book it’s title. On finishing The Complete Cosmicomics, I went on Goodreads to shout, sing & kind of express my love for this wonderful collection of …. what? Of Hooey, giddiness, Fables, applesauce, flapdoodle, song and dance, yes! Song and dance, as in the sense of implausible stories, and yet this is still not correct because whilst reading this collection of tales, I believed every word that Qfwfq said to me, Oh yes did I mention that this beautiful anthology of tomfoolery is narrated by an unknown entity answering to the name Qfwfq. Perhaps I should start this again but with the relevant background information.
The Facts? ( Wikipedia) image
The Complete Cosmicomics came out in 2009  & collects almost all of the Cosmicomic stories by Italian postmodern writer Italo Calvino.
The single volume collection includes the following:
  • The 12 stories that comprise Cosmicomics
  • The 11 stories that comprise t zero (also published as Time and the Hunter)
  • 4 stories from Numbers in the Dark and Other Stories
  • 7 stories newly translated by Martin McLaughlin (available for the first time in English)
Translator Martin McLaughlin explains the origins of the seven new stories in his introduction to The Complete Cosmicomics:
A little-known third collection – La memoria del mondo e altre storie cosmicomiche ("World Memory and Other Cosmicomic Stories") (1968), a volume not available commercially in Italy – offered 20 fictions in all, 12 from the previous two collections [Cosmicomics and t zero] and eight new pieces (seven of these new items are translated here for the first time into English; the other new 1968 tale, the title story, was translated by Tim Parks as "World Memory" in the 1992 volume Numbers in the Dark). 
 The Truth?
At the beginning, way before the Big Bang and all that loud kerfuffle that came & followed it, all matter was focused in a single point, there was no space, no time, all these came later as witnessed by Qfwfq. In fact in various guises he was around & either inadvertently created or was a part of everything, he remembers being a Mollusc, remembers the earth when there wasn’t an atmosphere, he tells the tale of when the moon used to come so close to the earth one could jump up and collect moon milk & how it moved away.
All of these stories start with some scientific fact, theory or concept, that may or may not have since been found to be pure hokum and from there Calvino works his magic, creating journeys of scientific discovery & fairy tale from exactly the same set of words, yes I don’t know what I mean either, an example is that the picture above relates to the tale “The Distance of the Moon,” and this is based on the premise stated by Sir George H. Darwin that at one time the moon was a lot closer to the Earth, from this Calvino creates a tale of unrequited love that has more pathos than anything I’ve read in a while and yet they also have an absolute joy about them. This is a writer playing with words like Lego bricks, like a child building something merely to delight in knocking it down, there’s a playfulness that just makes me smile, makes me grin & whilst I maybe sat on a chair at home or someplace else inside I’m Dancing Dancing Dancing, to the wonderful tunes of  Qfwfq and his producer Italo Calvino.
Qfwfq, is as old as the universe and has taken various forms and is described as "not surprised by anything", and characteristically "not at all sentimental about being the last dinosaur"
Italo Calvino, (1923 - 1985) was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952–1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If on a winter's night a traveler (1979).


James said...

I remember my reaction to reading this almost fifteen years ago more than the details of the stories. Your commentary brought back a few memories and suggested to me that it would be worth a reread.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi James, sounds that like myself what you actually read was Cosmicomics, that originally came out in the late 60s. This is The Complete Cosmicomics(2009) & combines that collection with several others such as Time & the Hunter & Numbers in the dark, plus some stories never before translated, meaning if you had great thoughts /memories about the original Cosmicomics this complete collection will really wow you & will be a fine addition to your Sci-Fi plan.

Brian Joseph said...

I have been meaning to read Calvino for years.

Your commentary makes me want to do so more.

Qfwfq sounds like a great literary creation.

The mix of what were or are scientific theories with what seems to be a bit of absurdism usually appeals to me.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Brian, please please do. There are few authors that I'd recommend without reservation Italo Calvino is one of them. One of my favourite books of all time is his Novel If on a winters night a tale, his compendium of Italian Folktales is wonderful & illuminating & both the essay books 6 memos for the next millennium & collection of sand make very interesting reading.

Bellezza said...

I have just plain Cosmicomics, and I began it once. But somehow, I couldn't sustain my reading. (Am I missing all these great authors, Bolano and Calvino, because I just don't really get them?) I should try again, although I've tried Bolano a thousand times and do. not. like. his. writing. (The book Tres that your reviewed above? I'd rather nail my head to a table than try it.) Anyway...I will try again with Calvino.

Oh, Parrish, you have so much to teach me.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Bellezza, it's just a matter of taste, there are lots of writers who are admired as great authors who I just don't get & no matter how many times I try just don't like, so don't worry if you don't like the authors you mention there are 1000s that you will.

@parridhlantern said...

PS, if you fancy giving Calvino one more try, howab out his more realistic writing such as

The Path to the Spiders' Nests


Difficult Loves

hopefully you'll enjoy one of these, if not just treat it as not your cup of tea & explore the many other wonderful writers out there.