Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Italo Calvino’s book Le cosmicomiche (1965; Cosmicomics 1968), in which “The Distance of the Moon” appears, is a set of evolutionary tales that combine a world of fantasy with the equally fantastic world of science. The stories are all narrated by the ancient yet ageless Qfwfq, a protean creature and expert storyteller who has been around through every stage of evolution. Calvino’s simple but very human characters interact with an intriguing, ever-changing cosmos. Their struggles occur on both the human and cosmic planes, but they are all struggles of attraction.

On the human plane, the attraction is that of love, yearning, and jealousy. Only the Deaf One seems without the anguish of human relations, yet his detachment from others is the cruel result of his deafness. He enjoys his life through a sensual relationship with the physical phenomenon that he loves, the moon. Calvino presents the Deaf One’s attraction to his physical environment as a reasonable way to respond to life. Mrs. Vhd Vhd yearns for the deaf cousin’s love. She is jealous of the moon, and she turns to her harp to abate her desire. In the end, she chooses to become the moon, to make herself a part of the lunar body that the Deaf One now will be able to watch only from afar. Qfwfq himself yearns for Mrs. Vhd Vhd with all the passion of an adolescent, and he is jealous of the Deaf One for winning her love. During his month on the moon with her, he discovers...

(The entire section is 495 words.)