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The Swerve: How the World Became Modern de…
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The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (edição: 2012)

de Stephen Greenblatt (Autor)

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
2,8761273,618 (3.9)255
In this book the author transports readers 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. In this work he has crafted both a work of history and a story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it. Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties 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, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius, a beautiful poem of 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.… (mais)
Membro:ForrestGreene
Título:The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
Autores:Stephen Greenblatt (Autor)
Informação:W. W. Norton & Company (2012), 356 pages
Coleções:LibraryThing 2039 (09-2018)
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Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

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The Swerve: How the World Became Modern de Stephen Greenblatt (Author)

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Mostrando 1-5 de 126 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
History, written well, can be just as thrilling as a fast-plotted action novel. I have read many books that treat history like a detective novel and that are able to hold the reader’s attention all while educating him. Books like,Guns, Germs & Steel, First Family: Abigail & John Adams, The Mother Tongue: English & How it Got That Way and Tyndale all manage the balance between page turner and academic work. While many books can master one of the two, most cannot combine both.

My most recent historical read is The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt. The book chronicles the story behind the 15th century discovery of an ancient text. In 1417 a papal secretary, Poggio Bracciolini, made an amazing discovery in a German monastery. What he found was a manuscript of a long-lost classical poem, Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura (“On the Nature of the Universe”). Greenblatt tells this tale as a way of supporting his primary thesis: that Lucretius’s poem is the origin of the Renaissance and, in effect, our modern world.

This connection has some merit. Lucretius was a student of the Epicurean philosophy which famously intuited the existence of atoms and believed in a very scientific view of the world. I remember reading Lucretius in college where we used his poem as translation material, and his talent as a writer is clear. His poetry can be ranked among the other classical giants, Homer, Virgil & later, Dante. However, unlike his celebrated compatriots, the Epicurean influenced Lucretius was often shunned rather than honored. In fact, Epicureans were often persecuted because their beliefs essentially made them atheists in very religious society.

Greenblatt is an excellent writer and he clearly knows his material. The Swerve is a short and fairly quick read for the everyday reader. He seems to have the page turning aspect of historical writing down pat. The discovery of Lucretius reads like part Indiana Jones and part Dan Brown novel. While this book was an easy enough read, and parts of it were genuinely interesting, some things kept getting in the way of my giving it a completely positive review.

More: http://stevebrady.tumblr.com/post/27121896261/book-review-the-swerve ( )
  ReaderWriterRunner | Jul 27, 2021 |
Wonderful! The story of how an ancient manuscript copy of Lucretius's De rerum natura was discovered during the 15th century, and how the reintroduction of the poem to the West has influenced the development of ideas and culture ever since. The book includes an outline of Epicurean thought as originally presented, as characterized by its critics, and as laid out by Lucretius himself. It also includes biographical notes about the manuscript's discoverer and the people in his life: noblemen, emperors, priests, cardinals, popes, and even false popes.

One small caveat: I found the first 40-50 pages to be a bit breathless sounding in the author's effusive praise of the awesomeness and incredible influence of the poem. However, once Greenblatt got into the actual meat of what he was discussing, it was all great. ( )
  JohnNienart | Jul 11, 2021 |
This is a fantastic 2/3rds of a book and a flat 1/3rd of a book. If you quit at the 2/3rds mark, I'm fine with that because the last third falls flat.

Swerve is about the re-discovery of Lucretius's "On the Nature of Things," an Epicurian poem extolling an early Roman atheist worldview of a universe made of atoms descended directly from the Greek Epicurians. For the first third, Swerve dives into the literature movement of the Roman Empire, the nature and industry of hand-written books on scrolls, libraries, and a world of literacy in a time of hegemony. And then Rome fell apart bit by bit and the books were lost to mold, moisture, Christians with torches, and monks who didn't care to make copies. The early Christian Saints clutched their chests and fell on their fainting couches about how Roman Literature in its beautiful literate manicured Latin, so much better than the crude Greek or Hebrew of the Levant, destroyed their souls and should never be read -- wink wink -- really don't read it except you should. To no one's surprise, people took the Saints seriously and it went from oh no we're not reading that to NO WE REALLY AREN'T READING THAT and thus, books get lost and destroyed and neglected and used for kindling. Some of the books were copied and recopied in rotation in forgotten mountainous monasteries. On the Nature of Things was one of those.

The second third of the book is about the academics of early Renaissance Florence who fought precisely like academics do. Nothing is better than threats and slander and lies and assassination attempts over translations of Latin. Some of the books crept out, some of the books stayed in collections, but fundamentally these crazy academics established fonts and notation and procedure and pedantic lexicography and everything the modern world needs to analyze literature. These are good people, the crazy ones who go to the Alps to steal books from monasteries. It's like an Umberto Eco novel except it all really happened.

So thus the book about the atoms and the atheism is returned to circulation.

This is all well and good. But the last third of the book stretches to make Lucretius's poem important in the course of history. The arguments are tenuous at best. Galileo! Thomas Jefferson! Newton! I think there was a Kant reference stuffed in there. The argument isn't very good because it was an whole body of literature, not just one poem, entering the literary market once again (histories, plays, philosophy, huge books of maps) that helped kick things along. Sure a book talking about atoms had some impact but wow, it felt overblown. This is unlike Fourth Corner of the World where the return of Ptolemy's Geography had noticeable and traceable effect -- before Geography, no maps; after Geography, maps -- it's unclear what the return of Lucretius's poem actually had.

Again! Absolutely fantastic first two thirds of a book. Worth reading. Perfect in its awesomeness. Last third -- merely good and sometimes bordering on okay. Recommend for the first two thirds, which is more than I can say for 90% of the history books I've ever read. ( )
  multiplexer | Jun 20, 2021 |
Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve is quite a fun and informative read, but he falls short of fulfilling the promise of the book's title.

This is a book about a poem, written in Roman times by the poet Lucretius, then mostly lost to history, only to finally be rediscovered in the 1400s by Poggio Bracciolini, a "scriptor" in the papal bureaucracy. Poggio's boss the Pope has been dethroned and imprisoned, leaving Poggio with time to pursue his passion for ferreting out books and manuscripts from Roman times by visiting monasteries where these works have been painstakingly copied and recopied over time. Most of these books contain content antithetical to the thinking of the Medieval Church and State, so have rarely been seen outside monasteries. Poggio and others like him who search out these works, are in somewhat of a race to find these books and make them once again available to the wider world.

Let me back up a bit. The author, Stephen Greenblatt, tells us in the introduction how, while he was in college, he first came across Lucretius' poem On the Nature of Things, and how this beautiful work, marrying poetry with an Epicurean discussion of philosophy and science, had a profound impact on him. This book then, is told through the lens of Greenblatt's love of the poem and his desire to discover as much as he can about how it came to be rediscovered.

Taking the title apart - "The Swerve" refers to a notion within Lucretius' poem on how atoms swerve into one another to form matter. For a good part of the book, Greenblatt tells us about Lucretius and his philosophy, and about Poggio and his search. It is this is the part of the book - the larger part of the book actually - that is quite a fun read. Greenblatt does a great job of summarizing Lucretius' philosophy, and paints a vivid picture of Poggio and his times.

The second part of the title - "How the World Became Modern" is Greenblatt's argument that Lucretius' poem had such an impact on Poggio's times that it became a spark lighting up the Renaissance. This part of the book - just the last couple of chapters - is rather tepid stuff compared to what came before. Let's just say that the author's contention is at best partially supported. I would think that Lucretius' work, like many others rediscovered by Poggio and his peers, did indeed provide tinder for the fire. In these last chapters, Greenblatt points to a couple of Renaissance figures who lit the flames, and notes that they owned a copy of the work and were influenced by it. I'm exaggerating a bit, but that's about the whole argument.

I rate The Swerve 3 Stars ⭐⭐⭐ - I liked it. If your interests include the history of the late Middle Ages, or Roman poetry and philosophy, I think you'll find a lot to like about this book, even if you find, as I did, that it doesn't really tell you "How the World Became Modern". ( )
  stevrbee | May 5, 2021 |
Stephen Greenblatt puts to great of stock into a mere book, and a man, flawed. Though Poggio found and enjoyed the Lucretius' work he could not take the leap into modernism himself, but instead stuck to the status quo due to either fear of burning or out of honest belief Lucretius was wrong.

However, the book's discovery and the history surrounding all the players are interesting and well told. Stephen takes time to explain On the Nature of Things: Lucretius wrote modern theories and while his arguments were philosophical instead of empirical, he came close to defining an atom and the conservation of energy as well as many other important scientific theories. Lucretius, a follower of Epicurus, declared "There is no God" and pleasure, not at the expense of another, was the purest form of life and the tragedy of humanity was we lived in fear of punishment in our afterlife, instead of living for the very moment we existed. ( )
  illmunkeys | Apr 22, 2021 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 126 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Every page of the book strives to present the Renaissance as an intellectual awakening that triumphs over the oppressive abyss of the Dark Ages. The book pushes the Renaissance as a rebirth of the classical brillance nearly lost during centuries mired in dullness and pain. This invention of modernity relies on a narrative of the good guy defeating the bad guy and thus a glorious transformation. This is dangerous not only because it is inaccurate but more importantly because it subscribes to a progressivist model of history that insists on the onward march of society, a model that allows moderns like us to excuse our crimes and injustices because “at least we’re better than those medievals.”

Now unlike most of those thousands of innocent believing readers, I see the deep problems of such an approach, as have the last dozen generations of historians. History does not fit such cookie-cutter narratives. Having studied medieval culture for nearly two decades, I can instantly recognize the oppressive, dark, ignorant Middle Ages that Greenblatt depicts for 262 pages as just… fiction. It’s fiction worse than Dan Brown, because it masquerades as fact.
 
The distortions in Greenblatt’s narrative may have slipped past the Pulitzer committee, but they won’t slip by someone with even a basic knowledge of church his­tory. St Jerome, to be sure, is no inconsequential figure, but Greenb­latt focuses most of his attention on Lactantius and Peter Damian. He is more interested in the latter because he reformed the already self­abasing
Benedictine order in the eleventh century, making voluntary self-flag­ellation “a central ascetic practice of the church” and thus accomplishing the thousand year struggle “to secure the triumph of pain seeking” (107). If this is genuinely how Green­blatt understands the significance and nature of the Benedictine order, one can only wonder why Harvard retains him.
adicionado por 2wonderY | editarHumanitas, Jeffrey Polet (Sep 3, 2013)
 
Why Stephen Greenblatt is wrong and why it matters.
adicionado por nabeelar | editarLA Review of Books, Jim Hinch (Dec 1, 2012)
 
Greenblatt's story of the unleashing of the pleasure principle on the European world after the discovery of Lucretius conveys his own passion for discovery, and displays his brilliance as a storyteller. The Swerve is, though, a dazzling retelling of the old humanist myth of the heroic liberation of classical learning from centuries of monastic darkness. The light of Rome fades into gloom, sheep graze in the Forum; then the humanists rebel against the orthodoxies of the church, bring about a great recovery of classical texts and generate a new intellectual dawn. This book makes that story into a great read, but it cannot make it entirely true.
adicionado por 2wonderY | editarThe Guardian, Colin Burrow (Dec 23, 2011)
 
The ideas in “The Swerve” are tucked, cannily, inside a quest narrative. The book relates the story of Poggio Bracciolini, the former apostolic secretary to several popes, who became perhaps the greatest book hunter of the Renaissance. His most significant find, located in a German monastery, was a copy of Lucretius’ “On the Nature of Things,” which had been lost to history for more than a thousand years. Its survival and re-emergence into the world, Mr. Greenblatt suggests, was a kind of secular miracle.

Approaching Lucretius through Bracciolini was an ingenious idea. It allows Mr. Greenblatt to take some worthwhile detours: through the history of book collecting, and paper making, and libraries, and penmanship, and monks and their almost sexual mania for making copies of things.

The details that Mr. Greenblatt supplies throughout “The Swerve” are tangy and exact.
 

» Adicionar outros autores (7 possíveis)

Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Greenblatt, StephenAutorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Ballerini, EduardoNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Binder, KlausÜbersetzerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Lozoya, Teófilo deTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Rabasseda-Gascón, JuanTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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But the extravagance and bitterness of the charges – in the course of a quarrel over Latin style, Poggio accused the younger humanist Lorenzo Valla of heresy, theft, lying, forgery, cowardice, drunkenness, sexual perversion, and insane vanity – discloses something rotten in the inner lives of these impressively learned individuals. (p. 146)
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In this book the author transports readers 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. In this work he has crafted both a work of history and a story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it. Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties 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, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius, a beautiful poem of 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.

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