The New Yorker Reader: “The Daughters of the Moon,” by Italo Calvino

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02/19/2009 5:17 PM |

See the Moon?

Ah, the “previously untranslated story.” This one is part of the series of metaphysics experiments collected between the covers of Cosmicomics, though it’s easy to see why it was not published along with the rest of them. (Categorize “Daughters of the Moon” in the “scrap heap” species of the “previously untranslated story” phylum.) It’s a shrill, uncharacteristically obvious allegory about consumerism — but, wow, what a marvelous shrill, obvious allegory this is. It is kind of depressing, to realize how much offhand invention, lyricism and transcendental ideas about time Calvino was able to consign to the desk drawer. If I ever came up with an image as good as a new, verdant moon rising up from the East River, I would spend my entire life trying to fit it into a story worthy of it.

One Comment

  • I saw the moon rise from waters off Coney Island last summer, it was a huge red ball rising from the sea into the low flying clouds out there on the horizon. People all around me on the beach were noticing it, taking a break from whatever we were doing and pointing to it and all going “look at the moon”!, “look at the moon”! We were all suddenly turned moon worshippers, regressing to the hunter-gatherer stage of human development.

    As for this story, Brooklyn Bridge is a good place for these types of visions. 77 drummers 2 years back I had to watch from the bridge and it was like that, the sun slowly sinking behind the city and that massive music down below. All sorts of things appear in front of your eyes…

    I think Italo Calvino meant 59th Street Bridge and Long Island City or Willets Point junkyards, not NJ. But we are not mainland here in Queens.

    Also, I wish in the first paragraph the translator used “many of these moons” instead of “loads of these moons”, I just found that word jarring here.