Cosmocomics is an anthology of 12 stories written by Italo Calvino. They were originally written in Italian although they have hitherto been translated in many English versions. All the 12 stories are mythical and surreal. The events are narrated by a character called Old Qfwfq who seems to possess vast memories of ancient occurrences in the universe. His relatives are mysteriously named, and he purposively uses them to complement the subject of the story. This paper will perform a critical analysis of all these stories in addition to other selected literature materials. E. E Cummings’ Anyone lived in a pretty how town, Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee, and George Bernard’s Man and Superman will also be critically analyzed alongside Cosmicomics.
In the first story, The Distance of the Moon, Qfwfg gives an account of how the moon steadily and gradually drifted away from the sun over time. Due to the closeness of the moon to the earth, lovers could spend time on the moon and then move back to earth in a matter of minutes. In At Daybreak, old Qfwfg explains how the solar system condensed into tangible forms from a “layer of fluidly, grainy matter” (Calvano 76). Through Qfwfg’s narration, the reader comes to know that primordial life-forms were evolving. For example, Mr. Hnw changed to become a horse, just as Qfwfg became a human being. In A Sign in Space, the sun took about two hundred million years to make one complete revolution around the Milky Way. The sun, which in this case symbolizes Qfwfg, leaves a mark in its path around the Milky Way so as “find it again two hundred million years later when it went by the next time around.” (Calvan 81). In All at One Point, the galaxies receded from a central point in space at a predictable pace that could be used to calculate the position of each galaxy from the epicenter at any given point in time. In Without Colors, the narrator describes the primordial earth as a uni-colored mass of material. Another story, Games without End, is about the gradual formation of cosmic matter as a result of galaxies recession from the solar system. The Aquatic Uncle is a story about the ancestral form all fish which used to live in the sea but later evolved to live on the land due to the development of limbs modified from its pectoral fins. Other stories in the collection include How Much Shall We Bet, The Light Years, The Dinosaurs, The Form of Space, and The Spiral. All these stories apply symbolism and allegory to recount how life evolved from primitive forms to different creatures like dinosaurs, snails, and human beings.
In Anyone lived in a pretty how town, E. E. Cummings gives the course of life in the little town where Anyone lived. Cummings mentions of the typical life of the townspeople and how the dwellers cared less about the contemporary issues. Bells ring from the church tower to summon people to weddings, burials, and other rituals. The children born in the town are shown to give relative attention to affairs of the two, and they “guess” that Noone is falling in love with anyone as time goes by (11). When Anyone and Noone die, the towns’ “busy folk” buried them side by side (23). The dead, however, continued to “dream their dreams,” while their bodies decomposed and enriched the soil (26).
The persona in Annabel Lee is a young man who was in love with a noble maiden by the name of Annabel Lee. The persona describes his love to Annabel Lee as the “love that the winged seraphs of Heaven coveted” (11-12). His love to Annabel Lee began when the two were children and blossomed up to the time that the two were grownups. Due to the jealousy of the angels of heaven for the two lovebirds, a strong chilling wind blew in the night and killed Annabel Lee. After her death, the royal family buried her in a sepulcher, although the persona spends every night by his dead lover’s grave. The persona hitherto dreams of his deceased lover, and the “moon never beams, without bringing him dreams” of his lover (36-37).
Man and Superman presents an argument that the woman has the potential of shaping the course and the outcome of any relationship. Jack Tanner, a young progressive political thinker, is mandated to guard a wealthy heiress by the latter’s father in his will. In Act II, Octavius Robinson woes Ann, but he is rejected for not consulting Ann’s guardian first. Tanner consoles Octavious that Ann is the pursuer and that his initial love advances were not repelled. Tanner pronounces his blessings to the couple. Later, Tanner’s driver, Henry (Enry) Straker, reveals that Ann was planning to court Tanner and that Octavius had no chance of marrying her. Tanner is, however, worried that he was Ann’s “bee and the spider.” In another scene, Octavius’ sister, Violet Robinson, is secretly married to Hector Malone against the bride’s father. When Hector threatens to expose the secret of their marriage, Violets objects and terms such a move as “senseless.”
The four literature materials are related to each other by the observation that nature takes its course regardless of anthropogenic input and influence over natural processes. The materials prove that the origin of the universe was controversial, and there are different versions that attempt to explain the real course of events that led to the formation of the universe. From the literature, there are subtle discrepancies between what is commonly regarded as normal, and what is exactly normal. The concept explained here is not explicitly deducible from the material, and a critical analysis of the four works of art aim at depicting the concept. The first book to be analyzed is Cosmicomics.
All the 12 narratives of Italo’s Cosmicomics concur with the popular mythologies about the origins of the universe. The second story about the condensation of the galaxy confirms the nebula hypothesis which states that all the components of the solar system were once a mass of amorphous fluid which suspends all the particulate matter. According to the nebula hypothesis, the condensation of this fluid-like substance was spontaneous, and there was no definite force that directed the sequence of condensation. The Nebula theory, however, does not point to the existence of any life form as the story in the Cosmicomics postulates. From the title of Italo’s book, a reader can deduce that the book does not give the narratives as true, although they are related to the common mythology on the creation of the universe. In addition to the Nebula hypothesis of the origin of the universe, Cosmicomics refers to the theory of natural selection
The mention of “the Aquatic Uncle” alludes to Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The principles of Darwin’s theory include the development and modification of body organs to cope with life. The “aquatic uncle” was a pulmonate fish whose fins were adapted to swim as well as paddling across the sand in the sea shore. The author also writes of the dinosaurs, their evolution, and eventual extinction. Most stories given about dinosaurs hold that the creatures became extinct due to the forces of nature that made their lives unbearable. Darwin’s theory also alludes to this opinion. In Cosmicomics, there was stiff competition for food and habitat between the dinosaurs and other animals, but the latter outlived dinosaurs due to their adaptability to the prevailing conditions. Although Italo gives sufficient history of these massive animals, there is a conflict that arises on which animals won between dinosaurs and other vertebrates. Classical archeologists’ narratives postulate that dinosaurs became extinct due to extreme climatic conditions, although Italo does not give such an explanation.
According to this book, Old Qfwfg and his family were passive players in the formation of the planets. The only thing they did was to appreciate the unfolding of natural events. The moon came close to the Earth without their input. They only rode on the high tides caused by this closeness. Lovers in his time enjoyed the picnic on the moon when it came close to the Earth. Qfwfg collected the “moon milk” that formed on the moon’s crevices as it passed through forests ad lakes. Even the evolution of Qfwfg’s uncle was a natural process and Old Qfwfg did nothing to shape the outcome of this evolution. E. E. Cumming’s poem is a typical story of ma’s indifference to nature.
Concerning poetic devices, this poem fails to attain the level of composition that would amount to a “good” elegy. There is an apparent misuse of grammatical syntax, and the reader is forced to reread each stanza to comprehend the message passed across by the poet. One thing, however, comes out clearly from the poem: seasons and tides come and pass, whether man partakes in their occurrences or not. The poet manages to relay the message that time passes on regardless of whether the society is united or not. The poem juxtaposes today’s societies against the traditional societies. People are very busy with their personal affairs, and they have no time to care about those of others. The presence of social institutions like the church is the only remedy to this incoherence and serves to unite the people for a common purpose. Annabel Lee also mentions natural phenomena like death, sea, moon, and supernatural beings in most of the stanzas.
This poem is a typical love story with a sad ending. The poet uses rhyme, repetition, hyperbole, and symbolism to create a masterpiece. He contrasts between two different social classes and suggests it as the reason why the relationship did not work. The man in the short-lived relationship is apparently from the lower standard while the woman is an aristocrat from a royal family. Although plainly referred to as a maiden, the girl’s burial in a tomb is symbolic of her high status in the family. She was probably the princess of the seaside kingdom. Stylistically, the poem is well composed although its themes may not auger well with some religious groups. The clamor that the persona’s lover died out of the Angels’ jealousy is against the faith of many religions which highly regard Angles as supernatural beings. The persona’s lover died a natural death regardless of his attempt to hold onto her. A reader learns that the maiden died because of a chilling wind that blew one night. Man and Superman, however, is a case of reversal of a natural process.
The second Act of the play Man and Superman carries the main subject of the entire book. While other themes like politics and socialism are portrayed in the play, love and romance are sufficiently depicted by the playwright. Contrary to the conventional assertion that men shape the genesis and the fate of a relationship, the central idea in Man and Superman is that women are more influential in a man-woman relationship than men. This idea is, however, disputable. In many relationships, and particularly where the society is largely patriarchal, men make the initial advances on women. The man proposes the wedding and takes the precedence in marriage. The setting of the Act is Richmond, meaning that it was not common for women to make advances on men. Nonetheless, there are other determinants of the length and success of a relationship other than the man’s contribution. A woman may implicitly pursue a man depending on his economic and social status. Wealthy women, like Ann Whitefield, are more leveraged to select the kind of men they wish to marry, given that they are not entering a marriage as dependents.
Calvino, Italo. The Complete Cosmicomics. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
Edgar Allan Poe. “Annabel Lee.” Poetry Foundation, 2016, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44885
Shaw, George Bernard. Man and Superman. Penguin, 2000.
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