Monday, December 17, 2012

From Ampersand...

The following is a review written by Chris from our November/December 2012 issue of the library's newsletter, Ampersand.

Non-Fiction: Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt 940.21
In this wide ranging history, the author reconstructs the story of the re-discovery, in the early 15th Century of a poem written in 50 B.C. He argues that the poem which might otherwise have been lost, was the seminal work which kicked off the Renaissance.
There are two central characters in the story. Poggio, a papal secretary who re-discovers the poem by Lucretius called 'The Nature of Things.'
Lucretius, who lived in a time of multiple gods, was apparently an atheist and a humanist. His work is wide ranging from the erotic to the scientific. It apparently had an understanding of astronomy and atomic structure.
Greenblatt traces the progress of distribution of this remarkable poem from its re-discovery in a German monastery by Poggio. It was ruthlessly suppressed by early Catholic and Protestant churches. Yet its content kept it alive until it was eventually printed and translated from the Latin into modern languages.
Not everyone will enjoy this book, but, for those with an interest in history, it is involving and readable.

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