The Ruin of Kasch

Overview

Rarely do we encounter books of such originality, erudition, and breadth that they persuade us to see our civilization in an entirely new light. The Ruin of Kasch is among them. Taking as his focus the periods immediately before and after the French Revolution but making occasional sallies backward and forward in time -- from Vedic India to the porticoes of the Palais-Royal and to the killing fields of Pol Pot -- Calasso recounts, elucidates, and interprets the downfall of what Baudelaire was already calling "the...
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New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 385 p. Audience: General/trade. **GORGEOUS GIFT QUALITY Belknap EDITION! ! **FREE PRIORITY MAIL (U.S. ) ... UPGRADE** to SHIP to ALL 50 STATES! ! We ship **THIS AFTERNOON or the NEXT POSTAL SERVICE DAY. Very slight cover/corner/edge shelf/handling wear. No Remainder Marks or inside page markings. Non-smoker environment. We are very careful regarding our packing/shipping. **CONFIRMATION OF DELIVERY INCLUDED! ** Read more Show Less

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Overview

Rarely do we encounter books of such originality, erudition, and breadth that they persuade us to see our civilization in an entirely new light. The Ruin of Kasch is among them. Taking as his focus the periods immediately before and after the French Revolution but making occasional sallies backward and forward in time -- from Vedic India to the porticoes of the Palais-Royal and to the killing fields of Pol Pot -- Calasso recounts, elucidates, and interprets the downfall of what Baudelaire was already calling "the Modern." This downfall came as a sequel to an earlier and opposite collapse: that of the archaic societies which were regulated by the movements of the stars and the rituals of sacrifice. At the center of the work stands the story of the ruin of Kasch, a legendary African kingdom whose annihilation becomes emblematic of the ruin of the ancient and modern worlds.

The genius of Calasso's book is that, in its illuminating blend of literature and ideas, it establishes a genre all its own. Its form is a rich blend of anecdotes, quotations, analysis, digressions, aphorisms, dialogues, historical discussion, and straightforward storytelling that beautifully mirrors its subject matter and evokes the protean spirit of Modernism. It is a sumptuous literary feast. Calasso brings to his stage a vast gallery of characters, including Laclos and Marx, Benjamin and Chateaubriand, Sainte-Beuve and Levi-Strauss, Max Stirner and Joseph de Maistre. And presiding over them all is the French statesman Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, who knew the secrets of both the Old and New regimes and who was able to adjust the perplexing and cruel notion of "legitimacy" to the modern age. Cynical Talleyrand -- who showed that success in the new era depends on agility, fluidity, and a consummate sense of style -- serves, fittingly, as the master of ceremonies throughout the book, which is at once a meditation on the origins and nature of power and a breathtaking synthesis of Western cultural history. It is an extraordinary reading experience.

Focusing on the periods immediately before and after the French Revolution, Roberto Calasso recounts and interprets the downfall of what Baudelaire was already calling "the Modern." With French statesman Tallyrand serving as the book's "master of ceremonies, " Calasso persuades us to see our civilization in an entirely new light.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Recounts the downfall of a legendary African kingdom whose annihilation is emblematic of the ruin of the ancient and modern worlds, with side trips back and forward in time to Vedic India, the French Revolution, and Cambodia. French statesman Charles-Maurice de Tallyrand-Perigord serves as the master of ceremonies of this synthesis of Western cultural history. No index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674780262
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Pages: 385
  • Product dimensions: 6.47 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Roberto Calasso is the author of The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, as well as a novel and many literary and philosophical essays. He is Director of the publishing house Adelphi Edizioni in Milan.

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Table of Contents

Note for Lucien 24
To Live in the Stream 28
Exempla Voluptatis 33
The Great Ball 35
Treacherous Trifles 39
Sad Glory 43
"The Mysterious Strength of Legitimacy" 53
Arcana Imperii 57
The Origins of Sweetness 57
Eulogius 63
L'Autrichienne 70
The Woodsman and the Fisherman 74
Goethe in Venice 77
On Taste 88
Metamorphoses of Style 93
Belated Nostalgia for Sorrow 101
The Languor of a Park in Berry 103
Around Port-Royal 107
The Ruin of Kasch 117
Among the Ruins of Kasch 125
Elements of Sacrifice 134
Law and Order 148
The Doctrine of the Forest 170
Archives and Will-o'-the-Wisps 181
Postcards from the Quaternary 185
The Demon of Repetition 186
Goethe's Birthday 205
Sacrificial Crumbs 206
The Anti-Romantic Child 219
Limits 222
Process 224
Glosses on Marx 226
The Ruthlessness of Ricardo 240
The Crystal of Money 242
History Experiments 248
The Artificial Barbarian 258
A New Frisson 287
Behind the Windowpane 290
Bien-Aime 295
A Visit to Picpus Cemetery 302
The Organization Wouldn't Like It 306
The Moscow Gatekeeper 312
Wake for Montaigne 315
The Wolf-Man Remembers 322
Voices from the Palais-Royal 331
Mundus Patet 338
Letter from Petersburg 349
Notes 359
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2000

    a masterpiece

    roberto calasso takes information readily available to everyone and creates something unique. His way of looking at literature and history and the beauty of his prose in expressing his ideas, make his work as valuable as any of those he discusses.

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