This book covers a lot of ground, presenting an interesting perspective on the intellectual history of Europe and the US.
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.
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?