Stories of the Mind and Gods of India
By Roberto Calasso
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679775478, 464pp.)
Publication Date: November 2, 1999
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"A giddy invasion of stories--brilliant, enigmatic, troubling, outrageous, erotic, beautiful." --The New York Times Book Review
"So brilliant that you can't look at it anymore--and you can't look at anything else. . . . No one will read it without reward."
--The Boston Globe
With the same narrative fecundity and imaginative sympathy he brought to his acclaimed retelling of the Greek myths, Roberto Calasso plunges Western readers into the mind of ancient India. He begins with a mystery: Why is the most important god in the Rg Veda, the oldest of India's sacred texts, known by a secret name--"Ka," or Who?
What ensues is not an explanation, but an unveiling. Here are the stories of the creation of mind and matter; of the origin of Death, of the first sexual union and the first parricide. We learn why Siva must carry his father's skull, why snakes have forked tongues, and why, as part of a certain sacrifice, the king's wife must copulate with a dead horse. A tour de force of scholarship and seduction, Ka is irresistible.
"Passage[s] of such ecstatic insight and cross-cultural synthesis--simply, of such beauty." --The New York Review of Books
"All is spectacle and delight, and tiny mirrors reflecting human foibles are set into the weave,turning this retelling into the stuff of literature." --The New Yorker
Roberto Calasso lives in Milan, Italy.
"The very best book about Hindu mythology that anyone has ever written...A magnificent reading of Hindu texts. Its power arises in part through strong, vivid writing and in part through stunning, unexpected metaphors."
--Wendy Doniger, The New Republic
"Magnificent...A moving, exhillarating, extraordinary book...An astonishing synthesis of myths and legends, philosophical inquiry, and speculative narrative"
--Shashi Tharoor, Washington Post Book World
"A scintillatingly challenging book...Its opening sentences are as startling as any in all of literature."
--Thomas McGonigle, Los Angeles Times
"All is spectacle and delight, and -tiny mirrors reflecting human foibles are set into the weave, turning this retelling into the stuff of literature...Calasso's erudition and his capacity for invention appear to be limitless."
--The New Yorker
"To read Ka is to experience a giddy invasion of stories--brilliant, enigmatic, troubling, outrageous, erotic, beautiful."
--Sunil Khilnani, New York Times Book Review
"A buoyant, expansive narrative that captures, with earthy vigor, scrupulous scholarship, and epic breadth, the Indian cultural ethos."
-- Kirkus Reviews
"This riveting performance (rendered beautifully into English by Tim Parks) is the fruit of a union
between serious scholarship and a mercurial imagination."
--Donna Seaman, Booklist
"Calasso has certainly managed to open a new road through the old landscape of literature."
--John Banville, New York Review of Books