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.
I'm not sure what I enjoyed more about this book, the history of manuscripts and the lengths of adventure one had to go through in order to discover them in the middle ages, the insights into the philosophy and worldview of a certain class in Roman society, or the fresh view on the birth of the Renaissance. But one thing that is certain is that I enjoyed all these aspects in this performance. In some ways this book is a hodgepodge of diverse subjects from the history of free thinking to the history of ancient manuscripts, but it never feels disjointed. It was one of those works that, when it ended after nearly 10 yours, left you yearning for more. After finishing this audio book, I went on to read Lucretius' 'On the Nature of Things', the rediscovery of which was the topic of this work, which was also a fascinating work in its own right, but not nearly as fun or as riveting of this superb performance.
This was not at all what I expected from the subtitle but it was an intriguing story nonetheless. Mystery, history, philosophy, the Vatican, rare book hunters, colourful characters and much more. All of this revolving around the rather accidental rediscovery of a lost text. Who knew something so seemingly small would have such an incredible influence on western culture. Very interesting! really enjoyed it.
Love listening to books.
This book is very interesting, and also hard to review. The historical content about On The Nature of Things by Lucretius is very good and well researched. However, it is also a very small part of the book. Most of the book is about the person that re-discover the poem - Poggio Bracciolini. While I find some of the information about Poggio interesting, it has less to do with the thesis by Greenblatt on the poems influence on the Renaissance.
It is very clear that Greenblatt has a great deal of admiration and respect for Poggio, and that he values his contribution in finding On The Nature of Things greatly. However, the act of discovery is only a small part of the book. He spends a great deal telling us of how Poggio became who he was, what circles he traveled in, how his employer the Pope lost his job, how he eventually made his own way, and eventually how he retired.
I very much enjoyed the information around Lucretius' poem, but thought the material about Poggio was just too much.