"We were peering into this darkness, criss-crossed with voices, when the change took place: the only real, great change I've ever happened to witness, and compared to it the rest is nothing." -- from The Complete Cosmicomics Italo Calvino's beloved cosmicomics cross planets and traverse galaxies, speed up time or slow it down to the particles of an instant. Through the eyes of an ageless guide named Qfwfq, Calvino explores natural phenomena and tells the story of the origins of the universe. Poignant, fantastical, and wise, these thirty-four dazzling stories -- collected here in one definitive anthology -- relate complex scientific and mathematical concepts to our everyday world. They are an indelible (and unfailingly delightful) literary achievement. "Nimble and often hilarious . . . Trying to describe such a diverse and entertaining mix, I have to admit, just as Calvino does so often, that my words fail here, too. There's no way I -- or anyone, really -- can muster enough of them to quite capture the magic of these stories . . . Read this book, please." -- Colin Dwyer, NPR
"The first time I read Aracoeli, I found it almost pointlessly disturbing and shocking. On rereading it, I still found it disturbing and shocking, but I have also grown to admire it—perhaps because it is so dark and resists any attempt to classify it. In writing this novel, Morante may have knowingly sacrificed clarity and logic in order to express her vision of a chaotic world." (Lily Tuck, Woman of Rome: A Life of Elsa Morante)
Aracoeli—Elsa Morante's final novel—is the story of an aging man's attempt to recover the past and get his life on track in the process. The Aracoeli of the title is the narrator's deceased mother, who grew up in a small Spanish town before marrying an upper-class Italian navy ensign. The idyllic years she spends with her only son—Manuel, the narrator of the novel—are shattered when she contracts an incurable disease (probably syphilis) and becomes a nymphomaniac.
Now, at the age of 43, Manuel, an unattractive, self-loathing, recovering drug addict who works a dead-end job at a small publishing house, decides to travel to her hometown in Spain in order to look for her. Filled with dreams and remembrances the novel creates a Sebaldian landscape of memory out of this painful journey, painting a portrait that is both touching and bleak.
Appearing here for the first time in paperback—the hardcover was published in 1984—Aracoeli is an important, and long-neglected, work in Morante's oeuvre.
Translated by Tim Parks
'Brimming with Calvino's beautifully crafted prose, dry humour and continual questioning of his own writing and memory' Observer
In five elegant autobiographical meditations Calvino delves into his past, remembering awkward childhood walks with his father, a lifelong obsession with the cinema and fighting in the Italian Resistance against the Fascists. He also muses on the language and sensations of emptying the kitchen rubbish and the shape he would, if asked, consider the world. These reflections on the nature of memory itself are engaging, witty, and lit through with his usual alchemical brilliance.
'Urbane and always elegant . . . shows us what a master we have lost in Italo Calvino' Literary Review
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