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'It will be read and re-read not as a treatise but as a story: one of the most extraordinary that has ever been written of the origins of Western self-consciousness' Simon Schama The marriage of Cadmus and Harmony was the last time the gods of Olympus feasted alongside mortals. What happened in the distant ages preceding it, and in the generations that followed, form the timeless tales of ancient Greek mythology. In this masterful retelling of the myths we think we know, Roberto Calasso illuminates the deepest questions of our existence. 'The kind of book one comes across only once or twice in one's lifetime' Joseph Brodsky 'A perfect work like no other' Gore Vidal
Tourists, terrorists, secularists, hackers, fundamentalists, transhumanists, algorithmicians: in this book Roberto Calasso considers the tribes that inhabit and inform the world today. A world that feels more elusive than ever before. Yet once contrasted with the period between 1933 and 1945, when the world made a partially successful attempt at self-annihilation, the new millennium begins to take on an unprecedented form. What emerges is something illusory, ever-shifting and occasionally murderous: the unnamable present. This book, the ninth part of a work in progress, is a meditation on the obscure and ubiquitous process of transformation happening in societies today, where distant echoes of Auden's The Age of Anxiety give way to something altogether more unsettling.
A sparkling new translation of the classic work on violence and revolution as seen through mythology and art The Ruin of Kasch takes up two subjects: "the first is Talleyrand, and the second is everything else," wrote Italo Calvino when the book first appeared in 1983. Hailed as one of those rare books that persuade us to see our entire civilization in a new light, its guide is the French statesman Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, who knew the secrets of the ancien regime and all that came after, and was able to adapt the notion of "legitimacy" to the modern age. Roberto Calasso follows him through a vast gallery of scenes set immediately before and after the French Revolution, making occasional forays backward and forward in time, from Vedic India to the porticoes of the Palais-Royal and to the killing fields of Pol Pot, with appearances by Goethe and Marie Antoinette, Napoleon and Marx, Walter Benjamin and Chateaubriand. At the centre stands the story of the ruin of Kasch, a legendary kingdom based on the ritual killing of the king and emblematic of the ruin of ancient and modern regimes. 'Startling, puzzling, profound . . . a work charged with intelligence and literary seduction' The New York Times 'Unique, idiosyncratic and vaultingly ambitious... essential reading' Independent 'A great fat jewel-box of a book, gleaming with obscure treasures' John Banville
Roberto Calasso is one of the most original and acclaimed of writers on literature, art, culture and mythology. In Baudelaire's Folly, Calasso turns his attention to the poets and writers of Paris in the nineteenth century who created what was later called 'the Modern.' His protagonist is Charles Baudelaire: poet of nerves, art lover, pioneering critic, man about Paris, whose groundbreaking works on modern culture described the ephemeral, fleeting nature of life in the metropolis - and the artist's role in capturing this - as no other writer had done. With Baudelaire's critical intelligence as his inspiration, Calasso ranges through his life and work, focusing on two painters - Ingres and Delacroix - about whom Baudelaire wrote acutely, and then turns to Degas and Manet, who followed in the tracks Baudelaire laid down in his great essay The Painter of Modern Life. In a mosaic of stories, insights, dreams, close readings of poems and commentaries on paintings, Paris in Baudelaire's years comes to life. In the eighteenth century, a 'folie' was a garden pavilion set aside for people of leisure, a place of delight and fantasy. Here Calasso has created a brilliant and dramatic 'Folie Baudelaire': a place where the reader can encounter Baudelaire, his peers, his city, his extraordinary likes and dislikes, and his world, finally discovering that it is nothing less than the land of 'absolute literature'. Born in Florence, Roberto Calasso lives in Milan, where he is publisher of Adelphi. He is the author of Tiepolo Pink, The Ruin of Kasch, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, winner of the Prix Veillon and the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, Literature and the Gods, Ka and K.
In this revelatory volume, Roberto Calasso, whom the Paris Review has called 'a literary institution', explores the ancient texts known as the Vedas. Little is known about the Vedic people who lived more than three thousand years ago in northern India: they left behind almost no objects, images, ruins. Only a 'Parthenon of words' remains: verses and formulations suggesting a daring understanding of life. 'If the Vedic people had been asked why they did not build cities,' writes Calasso, 'they could have replied: we did not seek power, but rapture.' This is the ardor of the Vedic world, a burning intensity that is always present, both in the mind and in the cosmos. With his signature erudition and profound sense of the past, Calasso explores the enigmatic web of ritual and myth that define the Vedas. Often at odds with modern thought, he shows how these texts illuminate the nature of consciousness more than neuroscientists have been able to offer us up to now.
'All the books published by a certain publisher could be seen as links in a single chain' In this fascinating memoir and manifesto the author and publisher Roberto Calasso meditates on the art of book publishing. With his signature erudition and polemical flair, Calasso transcends Adelphi to look at the publishing industry as a whole, from the essential importance of graphics, jackets and cover flaps to the consequences of universal digitization. And he outlines what he describes as the 'most hazardous and ambitious' profile of what a publishing house can be: a book comprising many books, akin to that of other twentieth-century publishers, from Giulio Einaudi to Roger Straus, of whom the book offers brief portraits.
From the internationally acclaimed author of "The Marriage of
Cadmus and Harmony and "Ka: an utterly original, fascinating
interpretation of the work of Franz Kafka that is simultaneously an
unprecedented exploration into the mystery of Kafka himself.
"From the Hardcover edition.
"A giddy invasion of stories--brilliant, enigmatic, troubling, outrageous, erotic, beautiful." --The New York Times Book Review
From the internationally acclaimed author of Cadmus and Harmony and Ka: an utterly original, fascinating interpretation of the work of Franz Kafka that is simultaneously an unprecedented exploration into the mystery of Kafka himself. What are Kafka's stories about? Are they dreams? Allegories? Symbols? Things that happen everyday? But where and when? Countless answers have been offered, but the question still arouses feelings of acute uncertainty. Many solutions have been proposed, but the essential mystery remains intact. In this remarkable book, Roberto Calasso sets out not to dispel the mystery but to let it be illuminated by its own light. To that end, with his unique vision, imagination, and intellectual acumen, Calasso attempts to enter the flow, the tortuous movement, the physiology of the stories to discover what they are meant to signify and to delve into the most basic question along the way: Who is K.? The culmination of the author's lifelong fascination with Kafka, K. is a book of significant literary importance, the fourth part in a work in progress of which the previous volumes are The Ruin of Kasch, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, and Ka.
Seen together, Roberto Calasso's books--beginning with "The Ruin of Kasch"--constitute an original and perceptive reconsideration of the great arc of literature, art, and mythology. In this lavishly illustrated book, Calasso turns his attention to the poets and writers of Paris in the nineteenth century who created what was later called "the Modern." His protagonist is Charles Baudelaire: poet of "nerves," art lover, pioneering critic, man about Paris. Calasso ranges through Baudelaire's life and work, focusing on two painters--Ingres and Delacroix--about whom Baudelaire wrote acutely, and then turning to Degas and Manet, who followed in the tracks Baudelaire laid down in his great essay "The Painter of Modern Life." In a mosaic of stories, insights, close readings of poems, and commentaries on paintings, Baudelaire's Paris comes to life.In the eighteenth century, a "folie "was a garden pavilion set aside for people of leisure, a place of delight and fantasy. Following Baudelaire, Calasso has created a brilliant and dramatic "Folie Baudelaire"--a place where the reader can encounter the poet himself, his peers, his city, and his extraordinary likes and dislikes, finally discovering that that place is situated in the middle of the land of "absolute literature."
It is the essence of Roberto Calasso's particular genius to have evolved a unique way of reconstructing the imaginative heart of some of the world's greatest cutlures. In the Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony it was the 'Greekness' of classical culture; in Ka he gives us the 'Indianness' of the mind of India, but in an Indian way. He does not describe or explain this mental world: he regenerates it through its stories and customs. Who is KA? And who is the immense eagle who asks this question, filling the sky, an elephant and a giant turtle in his claws? How can he be the child of woman? Who are these tiny folk he eats? The first impact of Ka is one of tremendous strangeness, bewilderment, disorientation. Slowly, however, the strange becomes familiar and - as Ka folds and enfolds the world of the Deva and the Seven Seers, of Siva, Brahma and Visnu, the wars of the Mahabharata, and finally the advent of the Buddha - we are amazed at our own recognition. These stories lie so close to the grain of our own experience that they confirm, or for the first time articulate, our own deepest perceptions about our condition.
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