Human emotion is the one constant in the Cosmicomics: jealousy, irritation, pride, generosity, and love. The most beautiful of all the stories may be that one quoted at the start, "All at One Point," in which people are "packed in like sardines," along with their furniture, their laundry, "all the material that was to serve afterwards to form the universe." They are stuck there until one of them, Mrs. Ph(i)nk0, exclaims, "Oh, if I only had some room, how I'd like to make some tagliatelle for you boys!" At that moment, Qfwfq and the others begin to picture "the space that her round arms would occupy," the space for the dough, the flour, the wheat for the flour, the sun on the wheat, the galaxy to harbor the sun . . .

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The Complete Cosmicomics
By Italo Calvino
Penguin Classics, 402 pp., £20

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In the act of making pasta, the universe can be imagined—and, in that moment of generosity, imagination, and love, Calvino says, our world and all of us were born.

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