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The interesting stuff >> Reviews >> Baerista & Grafton on Greenblatt's "The Swerve"
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Message started by hck on 02.05.2012 at 09:26:43

Title: Baerista & Grafton on Greenblatt's "The Swerve"
Post by hck on 02.05.2012 at 09:26:43

Two reviews (the first one definitely not friendly):



  • Baerista: The Swerve is really a full-frontal crash. : Marvelous Distortions: Greenblatt and the Transmission of Lucretius (2012-05-01) (http://thonyc.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/the-swerve-is-really-a-full-frontal-crash/) : i.a.

    Quote:
    Unsurprisingly, Greenblatt suppresses almost all of this fascinating information, despite the fact that it is very readily available in the standard hand books such as L. D. Reynold”s and N. G. Wilson”s Scribes and Scholars (1968/1974/1991) and L. D. Reynold”s Texts and Transmission (1983) as well as Michael Reeve”s article in the relatively recent Cambridge Companion to Lucretius (2007). The latter rightly points out that the fate of DNR (being copied several times during the ”Carolingian Renaissance,” followed by a largely dormant tradition between the ninth and fifteenth century) is shared by so many other classical texts that there is no reason to suppose this had anything to do with deliberate censorship, motivated by”Christian scruples” about Lucretius”s a-religiosity.

    The fact that an essential research aid like the Cambridge Companion appears nowhere in Greenblatt”s bibliography may be telling, but not quite as telling as the fact that the former two books are in fact listed. With other words: there is every reason to assume that Greenblatt knew fully well that he was distorting the facts when he decided to contruct a whole sweeping narrative on the motif of DNR”s “miraculous” survival. He therefore ended up telling the story the way he did not (simply) because he is a poor scholar, but because of the nature and purpose of his book, which is not an offering on the altar of truth, but a carefully calculated “bestseller,” whose author had some very precise ideas of what his readers would expect-and reward.

    (This review, BTW, pointed me to the one by Grafton:    )


  • Anthony Grafton: The Most Charming Pagan (2011-12-08) (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/dec/08/most-charming-pagan/?pagination=false)
    i.a.:
    Quote:
    What does seem clear—and though Greenblatt does not bring this out very clearly, Alison Brown does in her excellent short book The Return of Lucretius to Renaissance Florence (2010)—is that the humanists of Rome and Florence actually formed something like a coherent group of cutting-edge thinkers, some of whom moved back and forth between the two cities. After the Romans expelled Pope Eugenius IV, the connections became even closer. The Pope and Curia spent years in Florence and nearby, attending—among other great events—the dedication of Florence’s new cathedral. Most of these men shared a distaste for what they saw as the corrupt church that some of them served and a taste for new classical texts. It was only natural, then, that Lucretius would interest them.

    ...

    Quote:
    In The Swerve, he has done something even more remarkable: he has reached the best-seller list with a detailed, searching, and original account of an ancient book and its afterlife—an account so vivid and persuasive that it will induce thousands of readers to learn how books were produced and read in the ancient and medieval manuscript worlds, and to see what it felt like to live in a society in which books held the answers, or were thought to do so, about life, the universe, and everything. Moreover, he has brought Lucretius a good many new readers, to judge from the fact that A.E. Stallings’s wonderful Penguin translation of the poem is now Amazon’s best-selling title under Poetry. Like Lucretius, Greenblatt has written a seductive, beautiful book that will inspire wonder, reflection, and the pursuit of pleasure.


Title: Hinch on Greenblatt's "The Swerve"
Post by hck on 03.12.2012 at 10:32:35

A late review (2012-12-01):
Jim Hinch: Why Stephen Greenblatt is Wrong — and Why It Matters (http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?type&id=1217&fulltext=1)



Seen thanks to http://modernmedieval.blogspot.de/2012/12/history-without-transition-briefly-noted.html

Title: Re: Hinch on Greenblatt's "The Swerve"
Post by hck on 03.12.2012 at 17:40:02


hck wrote:
A late review (2012-12-01):
Jim Hinch: Why Stephen Greenblatt is Wrong — and Why It Matters (http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?type&id=1217&fulltext=1)



Seen thanks to http://modernmedieval.blogspot.de/2012/12/history-without-transition-briefly-noted.html


See also the discussion at https://plus.google.com/111440998814490691210/posts/11k1zXyB7cA

Title: Cohen & ET on Greenblatt's "The Swerve"
Post by hck on 06.12.2012 at 10:22:41

Two mediaevalists are not amused:


  • Jeffrey Jerome Cohen: Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve and the MLA's James Russell Lowell Prize (2012-12-05) (http://www.inthemedievalmiddle.com/2012/12/stephen-greenblatts-swerve-and-mlas.html)
    Quote:
    a book that in its relentless reductiveness and lack of complexity (or even humane impulses towards those who find themselves locked in 1000 years of unremitting and untextured darkness) offers a negative example of how to form an ethical relation to history


  • ET (= Elaine Treharne): Swerving from the Straight and Narrow: Greenblatt's Fictional Medieval Period (2012-12-05) (http://historyoftexttechnologies.blogspot.de/2012/12/swerving-from-straight-and-narrow.html)
    Quote:
    -a grand narrative that trumpets the Renaissance partly through its insistent derogation and misrepresentation of the Medieval.



Both posts have comments.

Title: Re: Cohen & ET on Greenblatt's "The Swerve"
Post by hck on 07.12.2012 at 09:46:03


hck wrote:
Two mediaevalists are not amused:


  • Jeffrey Jerome Cohen: Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve and the MLA's James Russell Lowell Prize (2012-12-05) (http://www.inthemedievalmiddle.com/2012/12/stephen-greenblatts-swerve-and-mlas.html)
    Quote:
    a book that in its relentless reductiveness and lack of complexity (or even humane impulses towards those who find themselves locked in 1000 years of unremitting and untextured darkness) offers a negative example of how to form an ethical relation to history


  • ET (= Elaine Treharne): Swerving from the Straight and Narrow: Greenblatt's Fictional Medieval Period (2012-12-05) (http://historyoftexttechnologies.blogspot.de/2012/12/swerving-from-straight-and-narrow.html)[quote]-a grand narrative that trumpets the Renaissance partly through its insistent derogation and misrepresentation of the Medieval.



Both posts have comments.[/quote]

Now see also Anne: Swerving Into the Fray (2012-12-06) (http://medievalmeetsworld.blogspot.de/2012/12/swerving-into-fray.html), seen thanks to Jeffrey Cohen on G+ at https://plus.google.com/110433684739546897626/posts/2xx1MjhNH8V


Title: Meis on Greenblatt's "The Swerve" (& Blumenberg)
Post by hck on 19.12.2012 at 13:45:05

Morgan Meis:
Swerving
2012-07-20 (http://nplusonemag.com/swerving)

IMO: Well worth reading (although I myself do not think "modern" people have a different mindset, one radically different from a mindset of "pre-modern" people).



Seen thanks to https://twitter.com/jeffreyjcohen/statuses/281357312139067392

Title: Cohen once again on Greenblatt's "The Swerve"
Post by hck on 22.05.2013 at 17:23:36

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen:
The Swerve Code (draft)
(2013-05-22) (http://www.inthemedievalmiddle.com/2013/05/the-swerve-code-draft.html)

I won't quote from that text here (yet), as it's (still?) labelled "draft".

But I do recommend it for reading.  :)


cf.:

hck wrote:
Two mediaevalists are not amused:


  • Jeffrey Jerome Cohen: Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve and the MLA's James Russell Lowell Prize (2012-12-05) (http://www.inthemedievalmiddle.com/2012/12/stephen-greenblatts-swerve-and-mlas.html)
    Quote:
    a book that in its relentless reductiveness and lack of complexity (or even humane impulses towards those who find themselves locked in 1000 years of unremitting and untextured darkness) offers a negative example of how to form an ethical relation to history


  • ET (= Elaine Treharne): Swerving from the Straight and Narrow: Greenblatt's Fictional Medieval Period (2012-12-05) (http://historyoftexttechnologies.blogspot.de/2012/12/swerving-from-straight-and-narrow.html)[quote]-a grand narrative that trumpets the Renaissance partly through its insistent derogation and misrepresentation of the Medieval.



Both posts have comments.[/quote]

Title: Laura Saetveit Miles on Greenblatt's "The Swerve"
Post by hck on 21.07.2016 at 08:56:42

That book still gets reviews.
Laura Saetveit Miles: Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve racked up prizes — and completely misled you about the Middle Ages (2016-07-20) (http://www.vox.com/2016/7/20/12216712/harvard-professor-the-swerve-greenblatt-middle-ages-false)

i.a.:

Quote:
Medieval literature is my field, but I had not had occasion to read The Swerve until I was invited to take part in an event connected with this year’s Holberg Prize. And so, on a recent windy Thursday afternoon, in Bergen, Norway, I sat down to read the book — and found myself totally swept up in the exciting story.

I relaxed and just went along with it; I read as if I were on the beach, not in the library. Great writing style, I thought. There were so many interesting details, the prose was so easy to follow — so self-assured, no pesky footnotes to distract me from the story. The book feels like a great detective story – it reminded me of The Name of the Rose or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code series. Really enjoyable reading.

And as I read, the normal person inside me thought: It is important for academics to write in this accessible style and reach broader audiences with stories about the past! This is the great story of modernity!

When I finished, I put down The Swerve on the table, and the academic side of my brain kicked back in. I had let myself read it as fiction. Yet it was supposed to be not fiction. When I thought of it as a scholarly book, and thought of all those thousands and thousands of people out there who read it and believed every word because the author is an authority and wins prizes, I realized: This book is dangerous.


cf. &m: http://www.inthemedievalmiddle.com/2016/05/the-ethics-of-inventing-modernity.html



Seen thanks to https://twitter.com/perurealfonso/status/755847988078006272

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