‘The Aquatic Uncle’ by Italo Calvino

This is my favourite of the Cosmicomic stories, each of which begins with the expression of a scientific hypothesis – true, subsequently disproved or apocryphal – which is then inhabited fictionally, with absurd consequences. This particular story hinges on the fact of our evolution from the oceans, with the recalcitrant uncle of the title refusing to make the transition to dry land.

Originally published in Italian between 1964 and 1965 in the periodicals Il Caffè and Il Giorno; first published in English translation in Cosmicomics, Harcourt Brace, 1968; translated by William Weaver, collected in The Complete Cosmicomics, Penguin Modern Classics, 2010

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