In the African kingdom of Kasch the king should be sacrificed when
the stars come into a particular alignment. One day a stranger
arrives who tells such good yarns the priests forget to watch the
skies. The king survives. Sacrifice is abolished, but the kingdom
begins to decline. Using this Bedouin legend Roberto Calasso
questions the legitimacy of power, tyranny and sacrifice.
Talleyrand is the master of ceremonies and guides the reader into
real and symbolic places. We are accompanied by Marie-Antoinette,
Bentham, Goethe, Baudelaire, Marx, Chateaubriand, three gruesome
assassins and assorted other folk. They all contribute to Calasso's
vision of history which encompasses both narrative and reflection
and reveals how ideas and actual events impinge upon one another.
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