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The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony

The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony

Paperback

By (author) Roberto Calasso, Translated by Tim Parks

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 416 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 194mm x 34mm | 399g
  • Publication date: 30 June 1994
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099308010
  • ISBN 13: 9780099308010
  • Sales rank: 93,151

Product description

THE MARRIAGE OF CADMUS AND HARMONY is a book without any modern parallel. Forming an active link in a chain that reaches back through Ovid's METAMORPHOSES directly to Homer, Roberto Calasso's re-exploration of the fantastic fables and mysteries we may only think we know explodes the entire world of Greek mythology, pieces it back together, and presents it to us in a new, and astonishing, and utterly contempory way.

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Author information

Roberto Calasso is the author of The Ruin of Kasch, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, Ka and K. He has also written The Forty-Nine Steps and Literature and the Gods. He lives in Milan and is the publisher of Adelphi.

Review quote

"A dynamic encounter between modernity and the oldest stories known to Europe." -- Robin Blake The Independent "I have no idea whether or not Roberto Calasso is a 'genius' but I do know that The Marriage Of Cadmus and Harmony is a perfect work like no other" -- Gore Vidal "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 "A masterpiece...a wonderfully fashioned work of art" -- John Banville Irish Times "A brilliant and profound narration" -- A. S. Byatt The Times

Editorial reviews

A stunning journey back to ancient Greece with Italian author Calasso, who, in a first US publication, takes apart the old myths to discover the birth of history and modern thinking amid timeless patterns of behavior. Ranging as widely as one of the peripatetic Olympian gods he describes, Calasso moves effortlessly between the legends and the poets and writers - like Homer, Ovid, and Sophocles - who gave their own spin to the old stories. He begins with the rape of Europa, and ends with the marriage of Cadmus to Harmony. The first story reveals the Olympians under Zeus, already withdrawing from the world, manifesting themselves only in forcible interventions like rape; the last marks the final occasion when the gods and men had "been on familiar terms; after that remote time, to invite the gods to one's house became the most dangerous thing one could do, a sign of the now irretrievable malaise between heaven and earth." As Calasso recounts the classic stories in between these two events, he not only divides the relationship between man and the gods into three stages - the third being the modern one of mutual indifference - but also gives accessible lessons on ancient history, religion, and philosophy. Central to the narrative is the death of Odysseus, which ends the "long chain of stories that predate history. After Odysseus, our life without heroes begins; stories are no longer exemplary but are repeated and recounted. What happens is mere history." Action, the hurly-burly of man encountering gods in extraordinary ways and stranger places, is ended with Cadmus' girl of the alphabet to the Greeks. Henceforth, religion - the gods - "will be experienced in the silence of the mind, no longer in the full and normal presence." But the meanings of the myths linger on - a myth, Calasso asserts, "is the precedent behind every action, its invisible, ever-present lining." Here, the past not only comes vibrantly alive but connects to the present in a virtuoso display of scholarship and insight. A remarkable feat. (Kirkus Reviews)