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The Swerve : How the World Became Modern
by Stephen Greenblatt


Overview - 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.  Read more...

 
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More About The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt
 
 
 
Overview
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. "

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780393343403
  • ISBN-10: 0393343405
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Publish Date: September 2012
  • Page Count: 368


Related Categories

Books > History > Europe - Renaissance
Books > Art > History - Renaissance
Books > Philosophy > History & Surveys - General

 
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THE POWER OF IDEAS
Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for nonfiction, Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern recounts the history and influence of one of philosophy’s most important works: Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things. Rediscovered about 600 years ago, the poem proposes that the universe operates without the guidance of an omnipotent being and all matter is composed of tiny particles. Copied and dispersed throughout Europe, it added to the feverish atmosphere of inquiry that characterized the Renaissance. Over the centuries, Lucretius’ poem impacted some of the world’s most esteemed minds, including Shakespeare, Darwin and Einstein. The work also affected Greenblatt when he discovered it in the 1960s, shaking up his ideas about death and the afterlife, as he recounts in the book’s delightful personal sections. A respected scholar, Greenblatt is also a stylish, accessible writer. His latest book is a testament to the power of ideas—a compelling narrative that shines new light on our intellectual roots.

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