Unearthly Appetites: Italo Calvino’s The Distance of the Moon

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August 31, 2016 by katmcdaniel

I thought we might revisit this strange modern fable from Italo Calvino. The monsters here are all human and quite unsettling.

synkroniciti

Humanity crosses increasing distances searching for new territory to explore. Is the distance between and within us threatening our survival?

Italo Calvino published Cosmicomics, a book of fantastic short stories in 1965. Each story was inspired by an accepted scientific theory. The first and most well known story is entitled “The Distance of the Moon”. It springs from the theory put forth by George H. Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin– yes, the one who wrote The Origin of the Species– that the moon was once closer to the Earth and is continually receding. Science has confirmed that the Moon is in fact drifting away from us at a rate of 3.8 cm per year. This doesn’t actually have much to do with Calvino’s tale, a story of masterful and colorful magic realism that betrays sinister undertones.

You can read “The Distance of the Moon” here. This English translation, made by William Weaver, won the…

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