‘Cosmicomics’ by Italo Calvino

I finally got round to reading Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino. Amazon.com’s editorial review describes it as

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.

which is pretty fair, though it possibly makes it sound even frothier than it is. Key words would be – surreal, whimsical, intellectually playful, that kind of thing. Which I found wore thin pretty quickly. It’s clever, it’s well-written, it’s often funny, if not belly-laugh funny; but in the end it just seemed a bit silly. Rather than engage with the science in a really interesting way, it just used semi-digested fragments as a kicking-off point.

2 Comments

  1. 20 September 2005 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Harry

    I thought Cosmicomics was OK, but not Calvino’s best. I became fed up with it.

    Have you read Six Memos for a New Millennium? – essays on the literary values Calvino hoped future generations might cherish: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility and multiplicity. Calvino died before the sixth one on “consistency” could be written. Looking at these words, you might think the book would be unreadable, but the opposite is true. It’s full of fluent writing, stimulating ideas, and some great stories.

    Really good blog, by the way.

  2. Harry
    21 September 2005 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Cheers Rob.

    I haven’t read any other Calvino. At the moment I’m not in a hurry to do so, though that may be unfair of me.

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