This book traces the return of pagan divinities to Western literature, from their first reappearance at the beginning of the modern era to their place in the literature of our own time. And whilst doing so profoundly deepens our understanding of our literary tradition.
Based on the prestigious Weidenfeld Lectures he gave at Oxford in 2000, Roberto Calasso sets out to uncover the divine - godly or otherwise - in specific texts, and finds it in what he calls "absolute literature". With its roots in early Vedic verse, absolute literature reached the apex of its expression during the period beginning with the German Romantics in 1798 and ending with Malarme's death in 1898.
But Calasso also discovers the divine in the work of Valery, Auden, Yeats, Montale, Borges, and Nabokov, and reveals how these writers, in their own very particular ways, were articulating the unnameable thing. Finally he delineates the timeless, ever-mysterious laws that surround the creative act itself.