Such an eloquent and lovely read. Full of fascinating history and thoughtful insights on perceptions of our existence. There are two books that I believe everyone should read before their death; this is one of them.
The Swerve, How the World Became Modern
The book is about a former secretary to several popes who becomes the greatest book hunter of the Renaissance. His greatest find in a remote German monastery is a copy of Lucretius’ poem “On the Nature of Things,” which had been lost to history for well more than a thousand years. Along the way of this search there is fascinating exploration of the history of book collecting (especially the classics), paper making over the centuries, the formation of libraries, and how books survived from ancient Rome and Greece due to being copied for generations by monks. But the true power of the book is that Lucretius recognized that all matter is composed of atoms swerving in new directions and thus subject to the forces of evolution. This provides the basis for humanism which recognizes that virtue is achieved through pleasure (friends, literature, art) and not through self-denial (the religious fear underlying subjecting oneself to the orthodoxy of the church to please God). The subversive poem, written before the time of Christ, inspired the thinking and discoveries of Galileo, Freud, Darwin, and Einstein as well as Shakespeare and Thomas Jefferson.
I'm an artist. I have always loved to read but work with my hands and eyes. I listen to books these days to get my fix and keep working.
Was recommended by a friend. Even better than I expected. The little I knew about Epicurians and Lucretius has expanded into an entire world of people who encountered the work and its impact. Such a brilliant ancient text that almost failed to survive. A beautiful story. My brain is aglow.
Also, wow! Narrator is excellent!
Modernity comes in the smallest yet greatest of ideas, the atom. Greenblatt's chronicle of both the content and history of Lucreticus' poetic and didactic epic On the Nature of Things is a must listen for the present citizen of modernity/post modernity.
Far exceeded my expectations. The author takes a now obscure event and weaves a tale which brings together 2,000 years of history and philosophical thought.
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
This book is less a history lesson than it is a worshipful panegyric extolling the virtues of materialistic atheism. I found it to be well written and wonderfully narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. What I did not find it to be was correct. Greenblatt’s premise is that the lost poem of Lucretius, “On the Nature of Things” was instrumental in shaping the modern way of thinking. And what was this great rediscovered revelation so nearly lost to history? “The denial of divine providence and the denial of the afterlife were the twin pillars of Lucretuis’ whole poem” (8:29). I hardly think that atheism was in danger of being forgotten. Greenblatt succumbs to the common error of many who spend their lives in the hollowed halls of higher learning: he fails to consider that the normal state of man is a life lived in rebellion against God. For Greenblatt the recovery of this lost poem of Lucretius was not just a boon to literature but to epistemology as well; for through it we remain connected to our classical atomistic roots. He attributes Lucretius the virtue of restoring our atomistic understanding of the ontological nature of the universe. This was summed up in the words of the modern popularizer of atheistic thought, Carl Sagan, who famously, and nearly reverentially, put mankind in his place with the words, “We are star stuff.” No humanistic, materialistic atheism was never in danger of extinction. That said, this book is an entertaining excursion exploring humanistic thought and Greenblatt makes his case as well as he can considering his presuppositional basis of Godlessness.
Seems a bit all over the place. Lacked focus.
While the story is interesting, it felt like I was listening to a conversation with a very knowledgeable professor that had been drinking. It was written to be believable but felt like some of it was made up or embellished but I was not smart enough to be able to put my finger on it to call it out. Overall I'm not real sure what the point of the book was?