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The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Robert Greenblatt

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The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Robert Greenblatt

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Robert Greenblatt
Reviewed by Cassandra, Librarian at Mary Jacobs Library
It seems that every nonfiction book I’ve reviewed for the blog has been my all-time favorite. I guess I should continue on that trend with this book! The Swerve is in my top 10 favorite nonfiction books of 2011 and it might just be one of my all-time favorite books.  It is a quick listen on audio at just 8 discs and the reader, Edoardo Ballerini, is easy on the ears.
In explaining how European civilization started to push away from Christian religiosity of the Middle Ages into a worldview we recognize as our secular own, Greenblatt traces book hunter Poggio Bracciolini, in 1417, on his quest through Medieval monasteries to search for ancient manuscripts. On this quest he unearths Lucretius’s “De rerum natura” (On the Nature of Things.) This book-length Latin poem, written in the 1st century B.C.E., is described as remarkably beautiful and gripping, while being a great example of Epicurean philosophy (available from gutenberg.org.) It is the story of how this particular manuscript was found, copied and passed along that Greenblatt believes led the way out of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance and then into modern philosophy.
In essence, this book is an ode to the power and tenacity of manuscripts and the celebration of the scribal skills of men such as Poggio and Niccolo. There is also an amazing insight into medieval religious fervor and the medieval monks who toiled in monastic scriptoria and discreetly inserted grumbles – “Thin ink, bad parchment, difficult text” -onto the pages they produced.
By | 2017-05-08T20:01:42+00:00 December 12th, 2011|SCLSNJ Recommended Reads|
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