Noah Kumin at Compact:
When the Italian writer and publisher Roberto Calasso died last year, he was more widely admired than understood. When he is praised in the Anglophone world, it is usually for being erudite. Meanwhile, in his native Italy, Calasso is better known as a publishing impresario, because of his leadership of the independent publishing house Adelphi. Calasso’s great work, a capacious 11-part series that he began in 1983 with The Ruin of Kasch, and ended in 2021 with The Tablet of Destinies, is often said to be indescribable. Actually, it is rather straightforward once you have the key. Calasso is writing gnoseology (a word he uses often)—that is, an examination and history of esoteric knowledge.
This helps to explain what can be one of the more confounding elements of his work. Critics never fail to mention the bewildering mixture of genres one finds in Calasso.