Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Hmm …

… In the Middle: The Ethics of Inventing Modernity: Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I won’t talk about the old historian’s Whig fallacy and the long debunked Burkhardtianism Greenblatt admits to following. 
Burckhardt's The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy is one of the few books I have read more than once. I am sure it is not without its imperfections and errors, including perhaps his view of the Middle Ages. Interestingly, I did not take away from the book much about the Middle Ages. I certainly don't recall its being as dogmatic as this piece seems. (I am reminded of J.B. Priestley's quip about professors who talk about their fields as if they grazed there.)
Let us give Burckhardt the last word: "To each eye, perhaps, the outlines of a great civilization present a different picture. In the wide ocean upon which we venture, the possible ways and directions are many; and the same studies which have served for my work might easily, in other hands, not only receive a wholly different treatment and application, but lead to essentially different conclusions."
Ms. Miles might want to consider that.

No comments:

Post a Comment