Talking Knots

"We are pessimists…but we are ardent optimists"--Lenin

lareviewofbooks:

Jim Hinch argues that Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve, which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, deserved neither accolade:

I’m at a loss to explain how two distinguished prize juries managed to overlook the fact that The Swerve’s animating thesis is at best “questionable,” and at worst “unwarranted,” as Renaissance historian John Monfasani put it this summer in the online journalReviews in History. Still, to make clear the extent of The Swerve’s errors, I’ll go through Greenblatt’s portrait of the Middle Ages point by point. First, it may be true that “it is possible for a whole culture to turn away from reading and writing.” But that didn’t happen in medieval Europe. Indeed the Middle Ages are considered Europe’s most bookish era, a time when books — Christian, Greek and Roman alike — were accorded near totemic authority. Medieval readers and writers (not just clergy — lay culture was widely influenced by texts and documents, especially following the 10th century) were apt to believe anything they read in an old book just because it was old and from a book. This was especially true if the book happened to be by a writer like Lucretius, a classical author whose words therefore automatically carried the imprimatur of truth.

Click here to read the full piece.

On the note of Greenblatt, and it’s actually because of how he reads Lucretius that I started losing respect for him

lareviewofbooks:

Jim Hinch argues that Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve, which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, deserved neither accolade:

I’m at a loss to explain how two distinguished prize juries managed to overlook the fact that The Swerve’s animating thesis is at best “questionable,” and at worst “unwarranted,” as Renaissance historian John Monfasani put it this summer in the online journalReviews in History. Still, to make clear the extent of The Swerve’s errors, I’ll go through Greenblatt’s portrait of the Middle Ages point by point. First, it may be true that “it is possible for a whole culture to turn away from reading and writing.” But that didn’t happen in medieval Europe. Indeed the Middle Ages are considered Europe’s most bookish era, a time when books — Christian, Greek and Roman alike — were accorded near totemic authority. Medieval readers and writers (not just clergy — lay culture was widely influenced by texts and documents, especially following the 10th century) were apt to believe anything they read in an old book just because it was old and from a book. This was especially true if the book happened to be by a writer like Lucretius, a classical author whose words therefore automatically carried the imprimatur of truth.

Click here to read the full piece.

On the note of Greenblatt, and it’s actually because of how he reads Lucretius that I started losing respect for him

(Source: lareviewofbooks)

  1. seekanewerworld reblogged this from edictalis
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  8. lostbetweenthepages said: I loved this book. It’s a great read.
  9. ourlightsinvain reblogged this from edictalis and added:
    If it can’t cut it by peer review, try it on the NY Times booklist! Or, jfc IAWTC for reals.
  10. edictalis reblogged this from lareviewofbooks and added:
    Seriously, I hate this. I hate it enormously. I can’t believe people still seriously think that for hundreds and...
  11. fromidably reblogged this from lareviewofbooks and added:
    Intriguing.
  12. talkingknots reblogged this from lareviewofbooks and added:
    On the note of Greenblatt, and it’s actually because of how he reads Lucretius that I started losing respect for him
  13. candylacedpoison reblogged this from lareviewofbooks
  14. thepinakes said: Fascinating. I enjoyed reading “The Swerve;” it’s interesting to see to what degrees it embellished upon or ignored the truth.
  15. die-bitch-please-die reblogged this from lareviewofbooks
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