The book of all books

Roberto Calasso

Book - 2021

"A book that begins before Adam and ends after us. In this magisterial work, figures of the Bible and its whole outline emerge in a new light: one that is often astonishing and disquieting, as indeed is the book from which they originate. Roberto Calasso's The Book of All Books is a narration that moves through the Bible as if through a forest, where every branch--every verse--may offer some revelation. Where a man named Saul becomes the first king of a people because his father sent h...im off to search for some donkeys that had gone astray. Where, in answer to an invitation from Jerusalem's king, the queen of a remote African realm spends three years leading a long caravan of young men, girls dressed in purple, and animals, and with large quantities of spices, to ask the king certain questions. And where a man named Abraham hears these words from a divine voice: "Go away from your land, from your country and from the house of your father toward the land that I will show you"--words that reverberate throughout the Bible, a story about a separation and a promise followed by many other separations and promises. The Book of All Books, the tenth part of a series, parallels in many ways the second part, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony. There, gods and heroes of the Greek myths revealed new physiognomies, whereas here many figures of the Bible and its whole outline emerge in a new light: one that is often astonishing and disquieting, as indeed is the book--more so than any other--from which they originate."

Saved in:
Subjects
Genres
Criticism, interpretation, etc
Published
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2021.
Edition
First American edition
Language
English
Italian
Item Description
"Originally published in Italian in 2019 by Adelphi Edizioni, Italy, as Il libro di tutti i libri."
Physical Description
450 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages [389]-434) and index.
ISBN
9780374601898
0374601895
Main Author
Roberto Calasso (author)
Other Authors
Tim Parks (translator)
  • The Torah in heaven
  • Saul and Samuel
  • David
  • Solomon
  • Wicked heights
  • Those who went away
  • Moses
  • An unredeemed ghost
  • The first generations
  • Ezekiel sees
  • Around the ruined temple
  • The Messiah.
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Italian publisher and writer Calasso (The Celestial Hunter) once again muses eloquently on the Bible in this 10th entry in his series dedicated to exploring ancient myths and the human search for meaning. In Calasso's signature style, he retells Bible stories, mostly from the Old Testament, emphasizing the themes of separation and sacrifice that tie the stories together. These narratives feature alongside literary criticism, scholarly analysis, philosophical digressions, and quotes from a wide range of thinkers—including Freud, Baudelaire, and Robert Alter. For instance, the story of Moses gives Calasso the space to muse on the nature of authority and how primogeniture (the primacy of one's first born son) has affected world history: "You can act as a judge, but there will always be someone who casts doubts on your authority." In their refraction through Calasso's prodigious mind, biblical stories are connected to a broader history of ideas, and the author argues that the Bible, like other ancient texts and myths, represents the human drive for transcendence and meaning. Despite the scholarly trimmings, the individual retellings will have wide appeal. Readers with any level of biblical knowledge will benefit from Calasso's far-ranging insights. (Nov.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A book that begins before Adam and ends after us. In this magisterial work, figures of the Bible and its whole outline emerge in a new light: one that is often astonishing and disquieting, as indeed is the book from which they originate"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A book that begins before Adam and ends after us. In this magisterial work by the Italian intellectual superstar Roberto Calasso, figures of the Bible and its whole outline emerge in a new light: one that is often astonishing and disquieting, as indeed—more than any other—is the book from which they originateRoberto Calasso’s The Book of All Books is a narration that moves through the Bible as if through a forest, where every branch—every verse—may offer some revelation. Where a man named Saul becomes the first king of a people because his father sent him off to search for some donkeys that had gone astray. Where, in answer to an invitation from Jerusalem’s king, the queen of a remote African realm spends three years leading a long caravan of young men, girls dressed in purple, and animals, and with large quantities of spices, to ask the king certain questions. And where a man named Abraham hears these words from a divine voice: “Go away from your land, from your country and from the house of your father toward the land that I will show you”—words that reverberate throughout the Bible, a story about a separation and a promise followed by many other separations and promises.The Book of All Books, the tenth part of a series, parallels in many ways the second part, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony. There, gods and heroes of the Greek myths revealed new physiognomies, whereas here many figures of the Bible and its whole outline emerge in a new light: one that is often astonishing and disquieting, as indeed is the book—more so than any other—from which they originate.