Thinking about the immortality of the crab

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Thinking about the immortality of the crab (Spanish: Pensar en la inmortalidad del cangrejo) is a Spanish idiom about daydreaming. The phrase is usually a humorous way of saying that one was not sitting idly, but engaged constructively in contemplation or letting one's mind wander.[1]

The phrase is usually used to express that an individual was daydreaming, "When I have nothing to do I think about the immortality of the crab" (Cuando no tengo nada que hacer pienso en la inmortalidad del cangrejo). It is also used to wake someone from a daydream; "are you thinking about the immortality of the crab?" ("¿Estás pensando en la inmortalidad del cangrejo?")

In poetry[edit]

"What are you thinking about?"

"Nothing. On the immortality of the crab."

Anonymous, Mexican Self-portraits (1855)[2]
¿En qué piensas?

—Nada, en la inmortalidad del cangrejo.

Anonimo, Los mexicanos pintados por sí mismos
The immortality of the crab

Of all the immortalities, I believe in
only yours, friend crab.
    People break into your body,
plop you into boiling water,
    flush you out of house and home.
But torture and affliction
Make no apparent end of you. No...

Not you, poor despicable crab -
brief tenant in this mortal carapace
of your individuality; fleeting creature
of flesh that quails between our teeth;
Not you but others of your eternal species:
infinite crab:
    take over the beach.

Inmortalidad del cangrejo

Y de inmortalidades sólo creo
en la tuya, cangrejo amigo.
    Te aplastan,
te echan en agua hirviendo,
    inundan tu casa.
Pero la represión y la tortura
de nada sirven, de nada.

No tú, cangrejo ínfimo,
caparazón mortal de tu individuo, ser transitorio,
carne fugaz que en nuestros dientes se quiebra;
no tú sino tu especie eterna: los otros:
el cangrejo inmortal
    toma la playa.

José Emilio Pacheco[2]
The immortality of the crab

The deepest problem:
of the immortality of the crab,
is that a soul it has,
a little soul in fact ...

That if the crab dies
entirely in its totality
with it we all die
for all of eternity

Inmortalidad del cangrejo

El más profundo problema:
el de la inmortalidad
del cangrejo, que tiene alma,
Una almita de verdad ...

Que si el cangrejo se muere
todo en su totalidad
con él nos morimos todos
por toda la eternidad

Miguel de Unamuno[3]

In literature[edit]

Dominican Poet and writer Edgar Smith wrote a novel in Spanish called La inmortalidad del cangrejo, about a man who, tired of suffering in life, decides to kill himself, but, after three failed attempts, starts to wonder if he can die at all.[4] The novel was critically acclaimed in Hispanic circles.[5] It was officially released in January, 2015, in the Dominican Republic,[6] then it was presented in June, in the US at an event at the Hamilton Grange library in Manhattan.[7]

In film[edit]


Similar phrases are used in various languages.

  • Czech: přemýšlet o nesmrtelnosti chrousta – an idiom that talks about the immortality of the may bug
  • Finnish: istun ja mietin syntyjä syviä – an idiom that talks about sitting and wondering about the world's early origins
  • Portuguese: pensando na morte da bezerra – an idiom that talks about "thinking about the calf's demise"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "La inmortalidad del cangrejo". Language Forums. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b Pacheco, José Emilio (1987), McWhirter, George; Hoeksema, Thomas (eds.), "Inmortalidad del cangrejo", Selected Poems, New Directions Publishing, p. 163, ISBN 978-0811210218
  3. ^ "La inmortalidad del cangrejo". Jorge Golowasch. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  4. ^ Smith, Edgar (2015-03-05). La Inmortalidad del Cangrejo. ISBN 978-0989719339.
  5. ^ Gautreau de Windt, Eduardo (2015-02-03). "El dolor de vivir contrapuesto al dolor de la posible inmortalidad, según Edgar Smith" (in Spanish).
  6. ^ "Edgar Smith Presenta obras literarios en la Biblioteca Rep. Dom" (in Spanish). Fox Magazine RD. 2015-02-03.
  7. ^ Montolio, Gladys (2015-08-15). "Presentacion de Libros y Conversatorio con Edgar Smith". Organizacion Lacuhe (in Spanish). Hamilton Grange library.
  8. ^ Sena/Quina, la inmortalidad del cangrejo on IMDb

External links[edit]