The Tablet of Destinies
Author: Roberto Calasso; Translated from the Italian by Tim Parks
Roberto Calasso, "a literary institution of one" (The Paris Review), tells the story of the eternal life of Utnapishtim, the savior of man, in the eleventh part of his great literary project.
A long time ago, the gods grew tired of humans, who were making too much noise and disturbing their sleep, and they decided to send a Flood to destroy them. But Ea, the god of fresh underground water, didn’t agree and advised one of his favorite mortals, Utnapishtim, to build a quadrangular boat to house humans and animals. So Utnapishtim saved living creatures from the Flood.
Rather than punish Utnapishtim, Enlil, king of the gods, granted him eternal life and banished him to the island of Dilmun. Thousands of years later, Sindbad the Sailor is shipwrecked on that very same island, and the two begin a conversation about courage, loss, salvation, and sacrifice.
What Utnapishtim tells Sindbad is the subject of this book, the eleventh part of Roberto Calasso’s great opus that began in 1983 with The Ruin of Kasch. The Tablet of Destinies, a continuous narrative from beginning to end, delves into our earliest mythologies and records the origin stories of human civilization.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
In The News
"A universe of blood, violence, and magic . . . Calasso depicts a blood-soaked universe where hundreds of gods battle for supremacy and where men prefer 'to live bound tight by destiny than abandoned to the turbulence of chance.' A vigorous rendering of the remote past." —Kirkus Reviews
"Stimulating . . . Calasso’s style calls to mind [Italo] Calvino’s dreamlike fabulism . . . and Parks’s translation is beautifully rendered and gripping, maintaining Calasso’s dreamlike tone . . . Calasso vividly creates a world of gods and humankind that is unfamiliar, poetic, and memorable. This slim volume packs a potent and thought-provoking punch." —Publishers Weekly