|Calvino on the cover of Lezione americane.
Later this year, Penguin U.K. will publish a “complete Cosmicomics.” The volume will bring together short stories by Italo Calvino which had previously been spread our across several volumes, or which were untranslated.
According to Rachel Love, Editorial Coordinator at Penguin Classics and Reference, the forthcoming book, titled The Complete Cosmicomics, will include:
According to Love, “Calvino published different cosmiscomics throughout his life, in Italian, and they were collected at different times by different publishers.” The seven stories in the new edition “are not newly discovered” work from Calvino, but they are pieces that have not previously been translated and collected into English-language Calvino collections.
Translator Martin McLaughin explains the provenance 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).
Three of the stories have landed in U.S. periodicals. The May issue of Harper’s magazine has published two of the new translations under the title “Two Cosmicomics” and in The New Yorker published “The Daughters of the Moon” in its February 23, 2009 issue.
Cosmicomics was first published in Italy in 1965, and subsequently translated to English and published in the U.S. in 1968. Called by Salman Rushdie “possibly the most enjoyable story collection ever written,” it is narrated by an entity known as “Qfwfq,” and the book’s 12 stories create fables to explain and question various scientific theories. It won immediate praise in the United States, with D.J. Enright writing in The New York Review of Books, “These are short stories because they couldn’t possibly be long ones. Cosmicomics is a truly original piece of writing, an engaging and refreshing book.”
Although Calvino began his career with realist novels of post-fascist Italy, in 1952 he broke from realism with The Cloven Viscount, the fable-like tale of a 17th-century viscount, sliced into two parts by a cannonball. Calvino followed up Cosmicomics with Ti con zero in 1967 (t zero, 1969). Numbers in the Dark was published in English in 1996, translated from the posthumous Italian-language collection Prima che tu dica ‘Pronto’ (1993).
It is uncertain if the U.S. will see a “complete” Cosmicomics, as the rights to the stories collected in the U.K. volume are spread among Harcourt and Vintage. Additionally, The Wylie Agency has rights to the seven newly translated works, meaning that all three parties would have to reach an agreement in order to publish the full book Stateside.
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