Certainly. I chose this book precisely because Ballerini read it.
His unbelievably intimate understanding of the books he reads.
I've always been interested in history, and especially of the Middle Ages. I thought that Greenblatt's depiction, however correct, might have been more nuanced. Historians such as Duby, Le Goff and Pernoud have demonstrated that the Middle Ages were not simply a world of darkness and despair. Furthermore, as demonstrated by Rubenstein in Aristotle's Children, contrary to what Greenblatt implicitly claims, the Church played a major role in guaranteeing the survival of the greco-roman intellectual heritage.
Evening and Weekend Manager Lone Star College-Greenspoint Center Houston, TX 77060
This an interesting historical eye-opener for all those who thought the early Christians and especially the catholic church had an exclusive lease on the moral high ground. Using "The Nature of Things" a poem by Lucretius, an early century follower of the philosopher Epicurus as a historical touchstone, Stephen Greenblatt leads his reader/listener from the gods of early Rome, through the superstition of the dark ages and fanatical tyranny of the Roman Catholic church to age of enlightenment and even evolution. This is not a read/listen for those that hide among their sacred cows.
Where will humanity be had mythology (religion) not interfered with the well developed human knowledge around the classic Greek era?
The exquisite documentation of historical facts.
His accent, pronunciation of Italian terms, clear diction and emphasis.
Absolutely... I could not put it down.
history, science, et al.
"The Swerve" traces the little-known story of the poem "On the Nature of Things" by epicurean philosopher Titus Lucretius. Centuries ahead of its time, this poem envisioned a world governed by basic laws of physics operating at the atomic scale--and notably, the absence of a deity at the reins. Nearly lost to humanity during the dark ages, fortune put it in the hands of a bureaucratic book-hunter named Poggio Bracciolini in the 15th century.
The book is roughly divided into two parts--one exploring the philosophy and setting of Lucretius' poem, and the other the biography of Bracciolini. Both are fascinating stories, with excellent details of everyday life in both eras. Although touched on, I felt that more direct examples of how the poem influenced modern philosophers and scientists were needed. The author spends a fair amount of time in wistful descriptions of the poem's art and philosophical depth, yet scarcely quotes directly from the poem itself. The narrator seems to reflect this in tone, seemingly breathless from partaking in beauty which is, irksomely, not always made apparent to the reader.
In sum: Crucial for those interested in ancient philosophy and the Renaissance, although expect a high amount of surface to substance.
I love this book. How close our world came to NOT becoming enlightened. We might have been in the dark ages still. But we're not, and it's a miracle. We should count our blessings every day that we are literate! It's also a cautionary tale against all those who don't value critical thinking and higher learning.
In a class by itself.
Such a beautiful and sensuous reader of English and Italian.
There are some stand-out historical events and characters that will leave you thinking: how come I never knew about this?!
Yes. Anyone interested in history, science and relegion should enjoy this book.
Can't think of one.
I enjoyed learning about the important position of a Scribe during those times.
Learning about the philosophy of Epicuras as it pertains to this world and after death.
This book purports to be a discussion of how the rediscovery of one of Lucretius' works ignited the Renaissance. It falls somewhat short of this lofty goal, but manages nonetheless to be a really interesting and well-researched representation of European culture during the time of the Western Schism of the Roman Catholic Church. The lives of popes and anti-popes of the period, their backstories, their political alliances, and the lot of everyday people is graphically discussed.
Yes, and I will. His thoughts are complex but one can follow.
I really don't think there is a comparable book....perhaps Haidt.
There are not scenes in this book, really.
No. It's a little dense for one sitting, but I would gladly listen to it repeatedly.
More from Greenblatt. Students and scholars benefit greatly from his writings!
reading a different book!
he could have written a better book!
It was impossible to detract from a book this poor.
Here's the gist of it: some Italian guy loves old Roman manuscripts. After a VERY long time, he gets his hands on this one, by Lucretius, a Roman writer who says, there is no God, you die, the soul dies, that's it, so enjoy yourselves now. Thinkl you've never heard of this guy? Think he's simply another atheist/epicurean type? Think again. Thomas Jefferson had 5 copies in his library which PROVES this is the most important book ever in the history of ever. Now I've just saved you 300+ pages of supposition, guessing and endless detail, much of which feels totally invented.
Love that Texas weather!
To say that I had no idea is to put it mildly. Greenblatt, in his thorough and inimitable style, tells of the world in Classical Greek and Roman times, how the growing Christian Church changed society and also preserved (despite themselves, seemingly) the "pagan" early writings, and how Petrarch inspired Poggio to (eventually) discover Lucretius's long poem, "On the Nature of Things." I have learned of the invention of beautiful handwriting, how books--codices-- existed in Greek and Roman times (it was not all scrolls), and that monks in the dark ages were required to know how to read, and to read daily for extended periods of time. I have learned so much; I am eager to re-read this book to fill in what I have missed in all the amazing disclosures. My long fascination with the Middle Ages and my complete ignorance of Classical Greek and Roman times are being amply rewarded with details and images of how it must have been.
The realization of how deeply and extensively the ethic "Christian guilt and sin" quashed curiosity and learning.
Language is speech; I appreciate hearing the words as well as reading the text. I am both listening and reading this book.
This book introduces the reader to very exciting concepts and helps to connect modern times to ancient times. We are not so very different, except for the overlay of the Christian ethic. People and societies are so real in Greenblatt's telling. I can't wait to finish the book and read it again, making notes the second time.
I love this book!