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?
Beautifully written and performed. The thesis is not completely convincing, but definitely interesting. The book offers a unique examination of a period in time and way of life that were profoundly impactful on our modern world. A highly enjoyable, thought-provoking listen.
Swerve was lucid and interesting history, moving seamlessly around a 1,500 year timeframe. I was especially drawn in by the excellent narration - it did the work justice.
At first I didn't like the narrator but his elegant sounding Italian won me over somewhat.
I don't know. Maybe.
I was inspired to look up some names. Those people were real...I could find them in Wikipedia.
The humanist poet, Lucretious
Penned some verses the Church thought were specious
When Poggia found 'em
He spread 'em around 'n
Pretended to think them facetious.
I was attracted to this book because of the Pulitzer Prize recommendation. I like well written books about antiquity, classical philosophy & languages, etc. I'm about two hours into it. There is fascinating information about how books were written and preserved over the centuries. But this book is also an anti-Christian polemic. Early Christian intellectuals and leaders are criticized for their asceticism and alleged intolerance. Mr. Greenblatt draws caricatures and straw men and then compares them to his idealized versions of Epicurean philosophers and pagans. Frankly, I have had enough of that. I wish I could get my money back. I cannot listen to this book anymore.
There is some flavor of Mr.Ballerini reading a dirge for the loss of 98% of books and works from antiquity, as well as Christian mobs destroying libraries and worms eating scrolls and codices. His reading style was not as sad as listening to someone reading thousands of names of people who have died in some public memorials, I've been to. No,I wouldn't go that far.
There was information about the creation of books in antiquity. I liked the description of what scribes did, where they did their work, what kind of writing materials they used, how books were preserved. The description of recovering a library at Pompeii was good.
If you don't like Christianity or believe that orthodox Christians from the past tried to stop people from enjoying themselves altogether and that Epicurean philosophers have a better answer for the human race, then this is the book for you. It is well researched in some respects and well written.
Before I read this book I read "On The Nature Of Things" first. I hate reading books about a book before reading the actual subject-book first. That way I can have better appreciation of what the subject the author is talking about. This book 'The Swerve" is more about the era of rediscovery in the early 15th century, than about Lucretius. If you are intent to know about Epicureanism or Lucretius this could be one book, but the study is a broad one and you will need to find other authors that specifically focus on that material. To be sure the rediscovery of books like the work of Lucretius, did not help the theocracy of that time. The author does a good job humanising the long dead book hunters of the late middle ages. That is the best aspect of this book. Its the story of book hunters and the beginning of the end of Christian theocracy in Europe, not the story of Lucretius.