The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

English language

ISBN:
9780393343403

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4 stars (4 reviews)

One of the world's most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt has crafted both an innovative work of history and a thrilling 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 …

3 editions

Review of 'The swerve' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Stephen Greenblatt provides an interesting synthesis of history and philosophy. Greenblatt's love of the humanities certainly shines through. This stands as an almost over-exciting commercial for not only reading Lucretius's "De Rerum Natura," but in motivating the reader to actually go out to learn Latin to appreciate it properly.

I would have loved more direct analysis and evidence of the immediate impact of Lucretius in the 1400's as well as a longer in-depth analysis of the continuing impact through the 1700's.

The first half of the book is excellent at painting a vivid portrait of the life and times of Poggio Bracciolini which one doesn't commonly encounter. I'm almost reminded of Stacy Schiff's [b:Cleopatra: A Life|7968243|Cleopatra A Life|Stacy Schiff|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1294098301s/7968243.jpg|12020129], though Greenblatt has far more historical material with which to paint the picture. I may also be biased that I'm more interested in the mechanics of the scholarship of the resurgence …

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