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The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
 
 
Author
Stephen Greenblatt.
Publisher Norton  
Format paperback
ISBN 9780393343403
Pages/Publication Date 356/2012
Daedalus Item Code 29352
This item is not available.
Description
(Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Non-Fiction) From the author of Will in the World, this book is both an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, helped changed the course of human thought and ushered in the modern era. Some 600 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 On the Nature of Things, an ancient Roman philosophical epic by Lucretius, which argued 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 details that Mr. Greenblatt supplies throughout The Swerve are tangy and exact. He describes how one of the earliest versions of a fluid for repairing mistakes on a manuscript—Whiteout 101—was a mixture of milk, cheese and lime. He observes the hilarious complaints that overworked monks, their hands cramped from writing, sometimes added to the margins of the texts they were copying.... On the Nature of Things was filled with, to Christian eyes, scandalous ideas. It argues eloquently, Mr. Greenblatt writes, that 'there is no master plan, no divine architect, no intelligent design.' Religious fear, Lucretius thought, long before there was a Christopher Hitchens, warps human life. There is abundant evidence here of what is Mr. Greenblatt's great and rare gift as a writer: an ability, to borrow a phrase from The Swerve, to feel fully 'the concentrated force of the buried past'."—NYTimes

 
 
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