Books for Xmas

Fresh Print

Some new books
to please the avid reader:

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Goldblatt. In this gloriously learned page-turner, both biography and intellectual history, Harvard Shakespearean scholar Greenblatt (Will in the World) turns his attention to the beginning of the Renaissance as the origin of Western culture’s foundation: the free questioning of truth. It hinges on the recovery of an ancient philosophical Latin text that had been neglected for a thousand years. In the winter of 1417 Italian oddball humanist, smutty humorist, and apostolic secretary Poggio Bracciolini stumbled on Lucretius’ De rerum natura. In an obscure monastery in southern Germany lay the recovery of a philosophy free of superstition and dogma. Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things harkened back to the mostly lost works of Greek philosophers known as atomists. Lucretius himself was essentially an Epicurean who saw the restrained seeking of pleasure as the highest good. In Poggio’s chance finding lay what Greenblatt, following Lucretius himself, terms an historic swerve of massive proportions, propagated by such seminal and often heretical truth tellers as Machiavelli, Giordano Bruno, and Montaigne.