The Swerve: How The World Became Modern
  • The Swerve: How The World Became Modern
  • The Swerve: How The World Became Modern
ISBN: 0393064476
EAN13: 9780393064476
Language: English
Release Date: Sep 26, 2011
Pages: 368
Dimensions: 1.2" H x 9.4" L x 6.2" W
Weight: 1.55 lbs.
Format: Hardcover
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Book Overview

This Description may be from another edition of this product.


It was a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functions without the aid of gods, that religious fear is damaging to human life, that pleasure and virtue are not opposites but intertwined, and that matter is made up of very small material particles in eternal motion, randomly colliding and swerving in new directions. Its return to circulation changed the course of history. The poem's vision would shape the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein, and--in the hands of Thomas Jefferson--leave its trace on the Declaration of Independence.

From the gardens of the ancient philosophers to the dark chambers of monastic scriptoria during the Middle Ages to the cynical, competitive court of a corrupt and dangerous pope, Greenblatt brings Poggio's search and discovery to life in a way that deepens our understanding of the world we live in now.

An intellectually invigorating, nonfiction version of a Dan Brown-like mystery-in-the-archives thriller. --Boston Globe

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Book Reviews (12)

5
  |   12  reviews
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5
   On The Nature Of A Thing
This is a wonderful piece of popular intellectual history. For those of us who are not fantastic historians, but are nonetheless interested in how we got where we are, this is professional stuff. It explains a lot. I have no idea how to judge if Greenblatt is really as good as it seems, but it is a damn important story regardless.
 
5
   Engaging introduction to Epicureanism and the recovery of the Greek and Roman literary tradition
This well-written, well-documented book makes for a fascinating read, assuming one has interest in the topic. One begins the book expecting an account of the EpicureanLucretian doctrine and one gets some, but the book's focus is more on the recovery and dissemination of the Lucretian texts than on content or even prosody. I happen to have an interest in the process by which Greek and Roman texts were recovered and made available to the West, and so found myself quickly drawn into Greenblatt's wonderfully told detective story. Although I found his synopses of Lucretius's doctrines accurate-one finds them in chapter 8 -- one has to go to the poem itself published in a wonderful prose translation by Martin Ferguson Smith, but also in several fine verse translations to get to the details of the Epicurean view. Greenblatt's book is accessible to all and will deepen and broaden one's knowledge of the topics it addresses.
 
5
   Stephen Greenblatt has written a literary page-turner that helps us ...
Stephen Greenblatt has written a deep, therapeutic page-turner that helps us appreciate Greenblatt's poem -- which Lucretius calls a literary mediation on the fear of death. It is also a meditation on life and the story of how the world has swerved in a new direction -- unfortunately for human societies. There is much to learn from The Swerve and is well worth reading and contemplating as we continue to find our way in an increasingly complicated and chaotic world.
 
5
   History at its best
Greenblatt, whose Shakespeare - book is also worth buying, is a master in creating such a narrative. Among the cascade of events following this event may be the addition of the pursuit of happiness to the American Declaration of Independence, for Thomas Jefferson had a number of editions of Lucretius in his library, and thus called himself an Epicurean, rather than Locke's life, liberty, and property. Now that is history that a layman can love!
 
5
   This is fascinating history.
I may never read fiction again if this kind of research is available. I chose it because I am currently focusing on the Pulitzer Prize for winning non-fiction and was rewarded with a great read. I wish I knew Latin so that I could read Lucretius and Cicero in their original forms.
 
5
   An engaging exploration of culture and thought.
The Swerve brings the inspiration and desires of the humanist movement to life. Greenblatt provides a look at the inner workings of the Vatican, diplomacy, politics and drama surrounding the re-discovery of On the Nature of Things. He has a great handle on cultural mood and the impact of the text, while leading us through the spirit of the Renaissance.
 
5
   I would give this book 6 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️S
This is an extraordinary book, one of the best books I have ever read. The subject is fascinating and is presented in a way that resembles a thriller. The author's grasp of the detail and scope of the material he covers is incredible. Anyone who rated this book with one or two stars must have missed the point completely. This book might disturb Catholics because it exposes centuries and centuries of horrific abuses, violence and murder committed by the Catholic Church on people. The explanation of the text by Lucretius and its influence over the centuries is fascinating. Every reader should have this book on his or his shelf.
 
3
   Interesting read
The detailed history of Poggio's recovery of Lucretius'De Rerum Natura is interesting, but very drawn out. That is, the author adds almost entirely speculative material about Poggio Bracciolini, who had tracked the lost '' manuscript in the 15th century and saved it from obscurity. Greenblatt is certainly an engaging storyteller, but for history buffs who prefer a more factual rendering without the fictional narrative, it is a bit tedious. I think it is a valuable reminder of the modern roots of many old ideas. Finally, there is no way to understand the present without knowing the past.
 
1
   Not as described
Maybe it is there somewhere, but I gave up after a 103 pages of wandering through history.
 
5
   Excellent Read.
Wonderful perspective on the long-standing tension between Christianity and science as well as humanism.
 
12