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The Swerve: How the World Became Modern Hardcover – Sep 27 2011


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The Swerve: How the World Became Modern + Lucretius On The Nature Of Things
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton; First Edition edition (Sept. 27 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780393064476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393064476
  • ASIN: 0393064476
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 0.5 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 703 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #132,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"[This] concise, learned and fluently written book tells a remarkable story" Sunday Times "More wonderfully illuminating Renaissance history from a master scholar and historian (starred review)" Kirkus Reviews "[A] superb history... This concise, learned and fluently written book tells a remarkable story... Highly skilled, close-focus readings of moments of great cultural significance are Stephen Greenblatt's speciality" -- Charles Nicholl Observer "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 (starred review)" Publishers Weekly "[A] superbly readable piece of historical work...an exciting story, and Greenblatt tells it with his customary clarity and verve" -- Robert Douglas-Fairhurst Daily Telegraph --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

STEPHEN GREENBLATT is the John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, editor of The Norton Shakespeare, and prize-winning author of many academic books, including Hamlet in Purgatory.

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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Raymond Argyle on Dec 25 2011
Format: Hardcover
The scientists searching for the God Particle -- the phenomenon that turned energy into mass at the time of the Big Bang to create the universe as we know it -- say they're closing in on their quarry.Of course, there's nothing God-like about what they're hunting, but the fact they've chosen to give it this name aptly illustrates our preoccupation throughout human history with deities of one kind or another.

Human beings created Gods (in our likeness?) around the time that we moved from hunter-gatherer status to tillers of the soil -- or maybe earlier. The Sumerians, ancient Greeks and then the Romans codified their Gods but it took the rise of Judaism and Christianity -- and later Islam -- to create the monotheistic, all-fearing, vengeful God handed down to us in the Common Era.

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt (W.W. Norton) explores how some of the early philosophers, notably Epicurus in 3rd century BCE Greece, and Lucretius in 1st century BCE Rome, challenged this belief in gods. Greenblatt has constructed a fascinating narrative around a 15th century ex-Papal secretary, Poggio Bracciolini, who found the forgotten manuscript of Lucretius, On The Nature of Things, in a monastery in southern Germany. He had it copied (in beautiful calligraphy as readable as modern printing), and soon it was influencing the work of Renaissance thinkers, insidiously undermining the conventional wisdoms of the Church. With the discovery, Greenblatt writes, "the world swerved in a new direction."

Epicurus had taught that the gods, if they exist, did not care at all about human beings. If the gods did not care, why should we?
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Pinault on Jan. 20 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An engaging look at philosophy, writing, the art of both and the history of our beliefs. Really thought provoking and insightful. Writing and its power, writing as artwork and our crazy history.

A real pleasure.
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Format: Paperback
When this book was published I read a number of positive reviews but was reluctant to read the book thinking that the focus on greek history may be somewhat dull. I was wandering through what remains of the stacks in our publice library and again came across this book. I signed it out and very quickly became absorbed by what is an interesting dialogue. This dialogue is about the influence of the church versus the influence of science. A Notary, Poggio Bracciolini, in the year 1417 serves as the centre piece for the search for, the discovery of, and the subsequent dissemination of Lucretius's ancient poem "On the Nature of Things". Mr. Greenblatt uses this dialogue to tell what is one of the most important stories related to the late evolution of human thought. Lucretius' poem is heralded as one of the original basis for the development of science and celebrates the philosophy of Epicurius. For anyone who struggles with or is interested in the tyranny of religious imposition, or who struggles with religious belief, this book is a must read.
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