From the internationally acclaimed author of The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony and Ka, a stunning summation of his lifelong study of the role of the gods in the human imagination. Based on the prestigious Weidenfeld Lectures Roberto Calasso gave at Oxford in May 2000, Literature and the Gods traces the return of pagan divinities to Western literature from their first reappearance at the beginning of the modern era to their place in the literature of our own time.
Calasso sets out to uncover the divine— godly or otherwise—in specific texts, and finds it in what he calls "absolute literature." With its roots in early Vedic verse, absolute literature reached the apex of its expression during the period beginning with the German Romantics in 1798 and ending with Mallarmé's death in 1898. But Calasso also discovers the divine in the work of Valéry, Auden, Yeats, Montale, Borges, and Nabokov, and he reveals how these writers, in their own very particular ways, were articulating the same unnameable thing. Finally, he delineates the timeless, ever-mysterious laws that surround the creative act itself.
With Literature and the Gods, Roberto Calasso profoundly deepens our understanding of our literary tradition. It is, itself, a literary masterpiece.
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Brilliant, inspired, and gloriously erudite, Literature and the Gods is the culmination of Roberto Calasso's lifelong study of the gods in the human imagination. By uncovering the divine whisper that lies behind the best poetry and prose from across the centuries, Calasso gives us a renewed sense of the mystery and enchantment of great literature.
From the banishment of the classical divinities during the Age of Reason to their emancipation by the Romantics and their place in the literature of our own time, the history of the gods can also be read as a ciphered and splendid history of literary inspiration. Rewriting that story, Calasso carves out a sacred space for literature where the presence of the gods is discernible. His inquiry into the nature of "absolute literature" transports us to the realms of Dionysus and Orpheus, Baudelaire and Mallarme, and prompts a lucid and impassioned defense of poetic form, even when apparently severed from any social function. Lyrical and assured, Literature and the Gods" is an intensely engaging work of literary affirmation that deserves to be read alongside the masterpieces it celebrates.
"Roberto Calasso's survey of the renewed interest in myth demonstrates how decisive the gods' influence was on modern literature. Calasso is not only immensely learned; he is one of the most original thinkers and writers we have today." —Charles Simic
“Calasso can take your breath away.” –The New Yorker
“[A] riveting work of cultural history. . . . Learned, eloquent, and artful.” –The Weekly Standard
“Luminescent. . . . Stimulating. . . . Seduce[s] a reader in search of ideas that entertain as well as edify.” –Los Angeles Times Book Review
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Book Description VINTAGE, 2001. Book Condition: Good. Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP35911760
Book Description Vintage, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. A slight tan to page edges Good condition is defined as: a copy that has been read but remains in clean condition. All of the pages are intact and the cover is intact and the spine may show signs of wear. The book may have minor markings which are not specifically mentioned. Most items will be dispatched the same or the next working day. Bookseller Inventory # mon0006630221
Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. A very good copy with minor wear. For non-UK markets items of 1.5 kg or more may require an additional shipping charge. Bookseller Inventory # HBS-00265502-B