Roberto Calasso

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Roberto Calasso
Roberto Calasso (1991) by Erling Mandelmann.jpg
Roberto Calasso, 1991, by Erling Mandelmann
Born(1941-05-30) May 30, 1941 (age 73)
Florence
LanguageItalian
NationalityItalian
 
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Roberto Calasso
Roberto Calasso (1991) by Erling Mandelmann.jpg
Roberto Calasso, 1991, by Erling Mandelmann
Born(1941-05-30) May 30, 1941 (age 73)
Florence
LanguageItalian
NationalityItalian

Roberto Calasso (born 30 May 1941 in Florence) is an Italian writer and publisher.[1]

Biography[edit]

Calasso was born in 1941, into a family of the Tuscan upper class, well connected with some of the great Italian intellectuals of their time. His maternal grandfather Ernesto Codignola was a professor of philosophy at Florence University. Codignola created a new publishing house called La Nuova Italia, in Florence, as his friend Benedetto Croce had done in Bari with Laterza. Calasso's uncle Tristano Codignola, was a partisan during World War II who after the war joined the political life of the new republic, and was for a while Minister of Education. His mother Melisenda – who gave up an academic career to raise her three children – was a scholar of German literature, working on Hölderlin’s translations of the Greek poet Pindar. His father Francesco was a law professor, first at Florence University and then in Rome, where he eventually became dean of his faculty.

Calasso has worked for the publishing firm of Adelphi Edizioni since its founding in 1962 and became its Chairman in 1999. His books have been translated into most European languages.

He is the author of an unnamed ongoing work reflecting on the culture of modernity which began with The Ruin of Kasch in 1983, a book admired by Italo Calvino. Dedicated to the French statesman Talleyrand, it was followed in 1988 by The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, in which the tale of Cadmus and his wife Harmonia becomes a pretext for re-telling the great tales of Greek mythology and reflecting on the reception of Greek culture for a contemporary readership. Another world civilization is surveyed in Ka (1996, where the subject of the re-telling is Hindu mythology). K restricts the focus to a single author, Franz Kafka; this trend continues with Il rosa Tiepolo, inspired by an adjective used by Proust to describe a shade of pink used by Tiepolo in his paintings. With La folie Baudelaire, Calasso once more broadens his scope to fresco a whole civilisation, that of Paris in the latter half of the 19th century, reconsidering the lives and works of the post-romantic generation of writers and artists from Baudelaire to Valéry. In his most recent work, Ardore (2010), the author returns to India for an exhaustive analysis of the theory and practice of Vedic sacrifice and its significance for post-modern epistemology.

His more narrowly focused essays relating to European modernity are collected in I quarantanove gradini (The Forty-nine Steps), addressed to Pierre Klossowski and his wife; Literature and the gods (2002) (based on his Weidenfeld Lectures at Oxford, on the decline and return of pagan imagery in the art of the west), and La follia che viene dalle ninfe (The Madness that Comes from the Nymphs), a collection of related essays ranging from Plato's Phaedrus to Nabokov's Lolita.

Reception[edit]

Terri Windling selected the English translation of The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony as one of the best fantasy books of 1994, describing it as "a complex and intellectually dazzling novel using ancient Greek mythology to explore the origins of Western thought.[2]

Bibliography[edit]

Original titleYearEnglish translationYearTranslatorNotes
L'impuro folle1974Novel
La rovina di Kasch1983The Ruin of Kasch1994William Weaver and Stephen SartarelliBook-length essay about Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
Le nozze di Cadmo e Armonia1988The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony1993Tim ParksBook-length essay, Prix européen de l'essai Charles Veillon
I quarantanove gradini1991The Forty-nine Steps2001John ShepleyEssays
Ka1996Ka: Stories of the Mind and Gods of India1998Tim ParksBook-length essay. Parks' translation was retold in 2005 by Geeta Dharmarajan as Ka: The Story of Garuda
Sentieri tortuosi. Bruce Chatwin Fotografo1998Winding Paths: Photographs by Bruce Chatwin1999Photography by Bruce Chatwin, edited and introduced by Calasso
L'editoria come genere letterario2001Lecture given October 17 in Moscow, for an exhibition on the Adelphi publishing company; published on the on-line literary review Adelphiana, November 16, 2001
La letteratura e gli dèi2001Literature and the Gods2001Tim ParksEssays, based on the 1999-2000 Weidenfeld Lectures at Oxford
K.2002K.2005Geoffrey BrockBook-length essay about Franz Kafka
Cento lettere a uno sconosciuto2003Selection of cover notes ("blurbs") written by Calasso for Adelphi Editions publications
La follia che viene dalle Ninfe2005Essays
Il rosa Tiepolo2006Tiepolo Pink2009Alastair McEwenBook-length essay about Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
La folie Baudelaire2008La folie Baudelaire2012Alastair McEwenBook-length essay
L'ardore2010Ardor2014Richard DixonEssays about the Vedas वेद and their philosophy

References[edit]

External links[edit]