In the end, a human being can’t actually be a book, no matter how hard they try; but Roberto Calasso came close.

It’s not just that Calasso, who died last week in Milan at the age of 80, was a renowned writer—the author of the international best-seller The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, an elegant retelling of most of Greek mythology, and other books on history and religion. He was also one of Italy’s leading publishers. As editorial director of the independent house Adelphi Edizioni since 1971, Calasso introduced Italian readers to Jorge Luis Borges, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Vladimir Nabokov, among many others.