Ka: Stories of the Mind and Gods of India

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Alfred A. Knopf, 1998 - Fiction - 444 pages
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With the same startling originality and brilliance that made his Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony a literary landmark, Roberto Calasso narrates the birth of one of the world's great cultures: the formation of the mind of India. He doesn't explain or describe this mental world--he regenerates it through its epic cyclical stories and customs, until we no longer need to define it for ourselves because we have come to know what it is.
So: Who is Ka? And who is the immense eagle asking the question, filling the sky, elephant and giant turtle dwarfed in his claws? How can he be the child of a woman? Who are the tiny folk he eats? The first impact of Ka is one of tremendous strangeness, bewilderment, disorientation. How can a Western tradition which demands to identify a beginning and an end understand one that sees no beginning and no end, but only an eternal tangle? Slowly, though, the strange becomes familiar, as new and ever more fantastic stories are spun out, gods emerge, bizarre sacrifices are performed. Why must the king's wife copulate with a dead horse? How is man reduced to an eye in an ant's nest? Why must the road to higher consciousness pass through an erotic adventure? Why is the first girl the dawn and the second the dusk? Rejecting our cravings to have the culture systematized and predigested for us, Calasso invites us to understand India on Indian terms, through Indian images, through India itself.
As Ka unfolds, the worlds of the Devas, of Siva, Brahm-a and Visnu, of the wars of the Mah-abh-arata, are splendidly revealed, until finally, with the advent of the Buddha, we are amazed at our own sense of recognition, for these stories seem to confirm, or toarticulate for the first time, our own deepest perceptions about our human
condition.
An entirely unique reading experience from an author at once supremely erudite and unceasingly creative.

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Ka

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Anyone who has read The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (LJ 2/1/93) surely knows Calasso's wide erudition and deep understanding of Western culture. Here, however, he goes east, delving into the Vedas ... Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Roberto Calasso was born in Florence in 1941. In 1962, he joined Adelphi Edizioni, the distinguished Italian publishing house. He is the author of The Ruin of Kasch and The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, which was the winner of France's Prix Veillon and the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger.

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