A meditation in 3 parts on the paintings of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) which adds up to an idiosyncratic but brilliant analysis of late 18th-century European culture. Along the way Calasso writes about witch-burnings (they were still happening in the 1780s), Zoroastrianism, the Sublime as a marketable commodity & the armpit hair of angels (his had a lot). The first part is a general appraisal & assertion of Tiepolo s genius as a painter. The 2nd & 3rd parts examine particular paintings in detail. The qualities he most admires in Tiepolo include his ability to combine high seriousness with airy lightness, a preference for mythology & mystery over morals & dogma, & a highly developed appreciation of pleasure & elegance in all their forms.
Born in Florence, Roberto Calasso lives in Milan, where he is publisher of Adelphi. He is the author of The Ruin of Kasch, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, which was the winner of the Prix Veillon and the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, Literature and the Gods, Ka and K. Alastair McEwan has translated more than seventy books of fiction and non-fiction, including works by some of Italy's best-known writers- Baricco, Calasso, Eco, Tabucchi, and many more. He also writes occasional articles in both Italian and English for major newspapers.