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"Axolotl" by Julio Cortazar


Axolotl by Julio Cortázar
The Mexican axolotl is an odd-looking salamander with a flat head and spiked feet, unusual because it often spends its entire life in the so-called larval stage, like a tadpole, without ever moving to land. “It grows and grows in the same shape, and has the capacity to reproduce,” said the biologist Armando Tovar Garza. “We don’t really know why it doesn’t change.” Its gaze seems to captivate as its gills slowly beat. In Julio Cortázar’s short story “Axolotl,” the narrator is transfixed — “I stayed watching them for an hour and left, unable to think of anything else” — and experiences his own metamorphosis. New York Times, Oct. 31, 2012
There was a time when I thought a great deal about the axolotls. I went to see them in the aquarium at the Jardin des Plantes and stayed for hours watching them, observing their immobility, their faint movements. Now I am an axolotl. I got to them by chance one spring morning when Paris was spreading its peacock tail after a wintry Lent. I was heading down tbe boulevard Port-­Royal, then I took Saint-­Marcel and L'Hôpital and saw green among all that grey and remembered the lions. I was friend of the lions and panthers, but had never gone into the… 1/6


"Axolotl" by Julio Cortazar

dark, humid building that was the aquarium. I left my bike against tbe gratings and went to look at the tulips. The lions were sad and ugly and my panther was asleep. I decided on the aquarium, looked obliquely at banal fish until, unexpectedly, I hit it off with the axolotls. I stayed watching them…...

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