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The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

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The Swerve: How the World Became Modern Cover

ISBN13: 9780393343403
ISBN10: 0393343405
Condition: Standard
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Jeffrey Bluhm, November 4, 2013 (view all comments by Jeffrey Bluhm)
I started this novel with great reluctance - an obscure book hunter in the 1400s, searching for a poem I'd not heard of by an ancient author whose name I did not recognize. However, I found it to be surprisingly, and enjoyably, readable. The history, politics, and religion of the time are lucidly described. The education and life of the book hunter give a strong sense of his character (and who can dislike a guy named Poggio?). The core themes of the poem are outlined with the correct amount of detail, and the net result is an interesting, entertaining story of how modern secular precepts emerged from the intolerant theocratic European societies of the Middle Ages. One might argue with the primacy the author claims for the role of the poem, but the journey he takes the reader on illustrates how many of our modern social ideals evolved.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Bernie Smith, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Bernie Smith)
A fine read. Well researched. Scholarly. Absorbing and thought provoking.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
Anat, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Anat)
The fascinating tale of a search for a poem that ultimately changed the world. Reads like a thriller. With style and the amazing ability to excite an intellectual curiosity, S. Greenblat brings us history, philosophy literature and above all an Epicurean intellectual pleasure/
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ddt, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by ddt)
the wisdom of the ancients still resonates
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Portugalicia, January 6, 2013 (view all comments by Portugalicia)
Habent sua fata libri. The destiny of one concrete book is always a fascinating story, especially when the book comes from the Classic times and it surfaces centuries later in one single copy. This is the case of Lucretius´ De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things). The history of its discovery and the life of the man who discovered it (Poggio Bracciolini) are indeed fascinating and worth reading. However, Greenblatt may be giving Epicureanism an importance it does not have.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780393343403
Subtitle:
How the World Became Modern
Author:
Greenblatt, Stephen
Author:
Greenblatt, Stephen J.
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company
Subject:
Renaissance
Subject:
World History - Medieval and Renaissance
Publication Date:
20120904
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 pages of color illustrations
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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The Swerve: How the World Became Modern Used Trade Paper
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Product details 368 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393343403 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this gloriously learned page-turner, both biography and intellectual history, Harvard Shakespearean scholar Greenblatt (Will in the World) turns his attention to the front end of the Renaissance as the origin of Western culture's foundation: the free questioning of truth. It hinges on the recovery of an ancient philosophical Latin text that had been neglected for a thousand years. In the winter of 1417 Italian oddball humanist, smutty humorist, and apostolic secretary Poggio Bracciolini stumbled on Lucretius' De rerum natura. In an obscure monastery in southern Germany lay the recovery of a philosophy free of superstition and dogma. Lucretius' 'On the Nature of Things' harked back to the mostly lost works of Greek philosophers known as atomists. Lucretius himself was essentially an Epicurean who saw the restrained seeking of pleasure as the highest good. Poggio's chance finding lay what Greenblatt, following Lucretius himself, terms a historic swerve of massive proportions, propagated by such seminal and often heretical truth tellers as Machiavelli, Giordano Bruno, and Montaigne. We even learn the history of the bookworm — a real entity and one of the enemies of ancient written-cultural transmission. Nearly 70 pages of notes and bibliography do nothing to spoil the fun of Greenblatt's marvelous tale. 16 pages of color illus. (Sept. 19)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Pleasure may or may not be the true end of life, but for book lovers, few experiences can match the intellectual-aesthetic enjoyment delivered by a well-wrought book. In the world of serious nonfiction, Stephen Greenblatt is a pleasure maker without peer."
"Review" by , "A fascinating, intelligent look at what may well be the most historically resonant book-hunt of all time."
"Review" by , "Can a poem change the world? Harvard professor and bestselling Shakespeare biographer Greenblatt ably shows in this mesmerizing intellectual history that it can. A richly entertaining read about a radical ancient Roman text that shook Renaissance Europe and inspired shockingly modern ideas (like the atom) that still reverberate today."
"Review" by , "It's fascinating to watch Greenblatt trace the dissemination of these ideas through 15th-century Europe and beyond, thanks in good part to Bracciolini's recovery of Lucretius' poem."
"Review" by , "[The Swerve] is thrilling, suspenseful tale that left this reader inspired and full of questions about the ongoing project known as human civilization."
"Review" by , "In this outstandingly constructed assessment of the birth of philosophical modernity, renowned Shakespeare scholar Greenblatt deftly transports reader to the dawn of the Renaissance...Readers from across the humanities will find this enthralling account irresistible."
"Review" by , "In this gloriously learned page-turner, both biography and intellectual history, Harvard Shakespearean scholar Greenblatt turns his attention to the front end of the Renaissance as the origin of Western culture's foundation: the free questioning of truth."
"Review" by , "In The Swerve, the literary historian Stephen Greenblatt investigates why [Lucretius' ] book nearly dies, how it was saved and what its rescue means to us."
"Review" by , "[A] nonfiction wonder...part adventure tale, part enthralling history of ideas."
"Review" by , "In this outstandingly constructed assessment of the birth of philosophical modernity, renowned Shakespeare scholar Greenblatt deftly transports reader to the dawn of the Renaissance....Readers from across the humanities will find this enthralling account irresistible."
"Review" by , "In this gloriously learned page-turner, both biography and intellectual history, Harvard Shakespearean scholar Greenblatt turns his attention to the front end of the Renaissance as the origin of Western culture's foundation: the free questioning of truth."
"Synopsis" by , A riveting tale of the great cultural "swerve" known as the Renaissance.
"Synopsis" by , Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction 
Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Non-Fiction
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