The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

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Read The Swerve: How the World Became Modern Online Free - One of the world's most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt has crafted both an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it.

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.

Title : The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0393343405
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 356 pages


Jeffrey rated it ★★★★★

December 23, 2017

"When we say...that pleasure is the end and aim of life, we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasures of sensuality, as we are understood to do by some through ignorance, prejudice, or willful misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble i...

Riku rated it ★★★☆☆

February 27, 2014

The Anti-Climactic Swerve Greenblatt is a good story-teller and delivers good entertainment value here, but not much informative or educational value, except as an enticing short introductory to Lucretius, Bruno and Montaigne. As Greenblatt acknowledges, there is no single explanation for the eme...

Kemper rated it ★★★★☆

September 19, 2012

Two thousand years ago a Roman named Lucretius wrote a poem that described a universe guided by physical laws rather than the whims of mystical deities and also advised that people should pursue happiness rather than spend their lives trying to appease gods who don’t exist . As I write this in 20...

Richard rated it ★★★★★

December 04, 2013

This review has been revised and can now be seen at Shelf Inflicted (a Group Blog). Changed my life forever, did this book.

Carmen rated it ★★★☆☆

November 03, 2017

But for the pagans... pain was understood not as a positive value, a stepping stone to salvation, as it was by pious Christians intent on whipping themselves, but as an evil, something visited upon rulebreakers, criminals, captives, unfortunate wretches, and - the only category with dignity - sol...

Tim rated it ★☆☆☆☆

November 04, 2012

A dubious thesis propped up by selective evidence and punctuated by digressions that were often only tenuously connected to the book's argument. Greenblatt massively overstates Epicurean philosophy's significance in the ancient world and his bold claims for the influence of Lucretius' poem in th...

Alex rated it ★★★★★

January 02, 2015

Usually five stars is my rating for a classic I read that was everything I hoped it would be. Nonfiction only gets five stars if it's very special. Once or twice a year. This book is great. It's a microhistory; that's a book that takes a little niche in history, and generally uses that niche to ju...

Courtney rated it ★★☆☆☆

January 10, 2012

I think Stephen Greenblatt is a tremendously intelligent man, and a gifted writer. I also think 'The Swerve: How the Renaissance began' is frightfully oversold by its title and blurb. One of the world's most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt has crafted an innovative work of history and a th...

Clif rated it ★★★☆☆

December 02, 2014

This is a book about the philosophical epic poem De Rerum Natura ("On the Nature of Things") by Lucretius, written circa first century BC. It tells of its loss in Medieval times and later rediscovery during the Renaissance. The title, The Swerve, is used (in translation) by Lucretius to describe...

Tony rated it ★★★★☆

May 04, 2014

First, the title is really dumb. And both sides of the colon. The Swerve? Even after reading the book and having it explained to me, I still find it off-putting. And I have a problem with titles which add, after the colon, some phrase of puffery. Usually it's how something or someone (_________)...

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