Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 2012
National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2012
Renowned historian Stephen Greenblatt’s works shoot to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. With The Swerve, Greenblatt transports listeners to the dawn of the Renaissance and chronicles the life of an intrepid book lover who rescued the Roman philosophical text On the Nature of Things from certain oblivion.
Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late 30s took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic by Lucretius—a beautiful poem containing the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions.
The copying and translation of this ancient book—the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age—fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare, and even Thomas Jefferson.
©2011 Stephen Greenblatt (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC
"More wonderfully illuminating Renaissance history from a master scholar and historian." (Kirkus Reviews)
"In this gloriously learned page-turner, both biography and intellectual history, Harvard Shakespearean scholar Greenblatt turns his attention to the front end of the Renaissance as the origin of Western culture's foundation: the free questioning of truth." (Publishers Weekly)
“Pleasure may or may not be the true end of life, but for book lovers, few experiences can match the intellectual-aesthetic enjoyment delivered by a well-wrought book. In the world of serious nonfiction, Stephen Greenblatt is a pleasure maker without peer.” (Newsday)
The storyline is very interesting. I really wanted to know how it all turned out in the end and I learned something new at every listening.
Learning lots about the history of the time.
The story is interesting, the length and depth are important to the overall tone and understanding. Unfortunately for me, sometimes it just bored me. I found I couldn't listen to it during my commute because it encouraged nodding off! I've listened to other histories and biographies without this outcome but don't think it was the narrator, he was fine, professional. I put to good use the variable narrator speed on the Android app. I might have given up without it and I really wanted to finish it.
The author brings to life characters about whom very little is known unless one reads the classics. My favorite might be Hypacia, or perhaps Bruno, who both were burned at the stake, but the man who hunted for lost Latin texts Poggio rescued an obscure poem, the philosophy of which runs through time all the way to our Declaration of Independence. It took my breath away.
Never, but he was excellent. I especially enjoyed the facility he had with the Italian language and Latin.
In the sense that I wanted to listen whenever I had a moment.
No surprise it won the Pulitzer. I loved it!!
One ot the most engaging non fiction audio books I have listened to. I listened to it twice this past weekend and will listen to it again.
No but Edoardo Ballerini"s natation here is perfect. I will be on the lookout for other audio books narrated by him.
It is amazing that it took 2,000 years for the west to get back to the level of intelectual and observational intelegence that the Greeks and Romans had attained. It is also amazing that Stephan Greenblatt can tell this story so engagingly.
The author crafted a very interesting story around a humanist "book hunter," not only revealing how ancient books doomed to obscurity and likely dissolution were reintroduced to society 500+ years after their writing, but also providing insight into the 15th century thinking, the inner workings of the Vatican, as well how cities like Rome and Venice function. An informative and intriguing means of delivering a history lesson. The narrator was ideal for reading, keeping the story moving, speaking with just the right inflection and clarity.
Fascinating story. Most of the books I listen to are fiction, Nesbo, Lethem, Burke, and such. "Swerve" is full of lore that's new to me and helps explain aspects of our world today I hadn't understood.
The writing is just splendid. It's paced, suspenseful, loving of knowledge, and an example to us all.
The reader's fine. He's a reader, not someone needed to bring the work to life. The author has given us a book that needs no help coming to life.
This highly comprehensive and illuminating story chronicles an Italian man's quest for the lost works of antiquity. From the reaches of utter obscurity, he discovers a piece of work that will help fuel the renaissance and change the path of western thought forever.
His pronunciation of Italian and Greek words and names.
It is one of the most interesting books I have ever encountered.
Weaving in more mystery, interesting anecdotes.
His voice, his emphasis, pronunciations
I stopped listening about 90 minutes into it.
If you're a real history buff, this book is a find. If you're just interested in history, but prefer it spiced up with some intrigue, then this may not be the book for you.
J. Jason Gale
This book is lyrical, almost poetic. It is so pleasurable that this reader is stunned that it is deeply profound as well.
I have a better understanding of ancient and medieval history and philosophy from Swerve than I got in from classes at the University. Stephen made the characters alive and interactive in their political/social environs.
Thanks to this book, I no longer think modernity evolved into our scientific perception of reality. Instead, it's clear to me that we rediscovered it. And quite accidentally.
I've always wanted to know more about how ancient writings come down to us. There's a lot of detail about manuscripts and how long they last, and how little actually dates back to ancient times. I found it very interesting. The story of Poggio Bracciolini, the renaissance book hunter is also interesting. The author writes in wonderful prose. The reader compliments it nicely. If you like ancient/Roman/European history, this book is an entertaining overview.
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