The strikingly original ninth book in Roberto Calasso's monumental exploration of civilizationThe ninth part of Roberto Calasso's monumental work in progress, The Unnamable Present, resonates deeply with the first book, The Ruin of Kasch (originally published in 1983, and recently reissued by FSG in a new translation). But while Kasch is an iconoclastic exploration of modern civilization, The Unnamable Present propels us into the twentieth century. Tourists, terrorists, secularists, hackers, fundamentalists, humanists these are all tribes that inhabit and stir up the unnamable present. But for most everyone else, this is a world that is more elusive than ever before, one that "has no style of its own and uses every style," one that is impossible to grasp in its entirety. This is a world that seems to have no definition or past, but is suddenly illuminated when from behind it the silhouette of history emerges especially of that period between 1933 and 1945, when the world itself was bent on self-annihilation. W. H. Auden gave the title The Age of Anxiety to a long poem set toward the end of the war. Today those voices sound more remote, as if they came from another realm. And though the anxiety hasn t diminished, it no longer predominates. What predominates is something inchoate and occasionally lethal. The Unnamable Present a globe-spanning meditation on how previously recognizable institutions of societal control, terror, history, religion, language, and government have scattered and reformed to create a reality that takes its shape from shapelessness itself. Translated with sensitivity by Calasso's longtime translator, Richard Dixon, The Unnamable Present is a strikingly original and provocative triumph from the writer The Paris Review called a literary institution of one.