Bring Out Your Deadby Anthony Grafton
Tracing the ties that bound the world of humanistic learning in early modern Europe to other social and cultural spheres
The work of the Renaissance humanists comes to life in Anthony Grafton’s exploration of the primary sources and modern scholarship, classical and modern elements in the world of European letters from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century.
Tracing the ties that bound the world of humanistic learning in early modern Europe to other social and cultural spheres, Grafton defines the current state of the art of scholarship on early modern European cultural and intellectual history while simultaneously demonstrating how entertaining, enlightening, and relevant that history can be.
Covering a dazzling variety of topics and authors as different as Alberti and Descartes, Grafton maps the grand and meticulous efforts of the past to connect the realm of nature with that of books, the realm of everyday experience with that of passionate reading in massive tomes, and the realm of codes of etiquette and institutions with that of extravagant and joyous eruditionefforts that this book itself brilliantly carries on.
Many of the scholars who between the 15th century and the 19th recovered the ancient world and created the disciplines of modern learning were weird. And no one captures their grit, brawling and glory like Anthony Grafton. Or with such humor; I can't think of another intellectual historian of his stature who would give a book a title that invokes, among other jokes, a classic Monty Python scene… [Grafton's] passion is for understanding and, as he confronts its pioneers who are themselves responding sharply to ancient and contemporary writers, the polyphonic conversation becomes a discourse about how we have become who we are. Like the contentious people in his book, he wants to leave behind students who are in love with discovery. May they absorb his eloquence and his quick, tough earthiness.
D. J. R. Bruckner
Anthony Grafton prefers the 'brighter side' of the European Renaissance. He does not spend much time harping on about all those evil '-isms' revisionist historians complain were also aboard that leaky old flagship of western civilization. Instead, in this, his latest of more than 20 witty and jargon-free books, Grafton enthusiastically examines one of the more worthy -isms—humanism, which enjoyed both innocent cause and generous effect on world culture… In Bring Out Your Dead, Grafton traces the evolution of Latin humanism from its archaeological and antiquarian beginnings in Italy, through its emphasis on rhetoric and sometimes pedantic exercise across the Alps (especially in the Germanic lands), and then to its unexpected influence on the rise of enlightened scientific and historical reasoning by the 18th century.
Grafton's own contribution to this tradition has been fourfold. First, his research on Scaliger has given him firsthand knowledge of many of the most remote and demanding branches of humanist learning. Secondly, his omnivorous curiosity and astonishing energy have made him uniquely well-acquainted with the bibliography, ancient and modern, of huge tracts of learning. Thirdly, he has done more than his predecessors to bring the history of scholarship into the mainstream and to relate it to the broader history of social and cultural change. Finally, and perhaps most important, he is a superb expositor. He writes with such wit, eloquence, and baroque exuberance, and his prose is so free from obfuscating academic jargon, that he succeeds in engaging the reader's interest in what would otherwise seem impossibly arcane subject matter… Anthony Grafton [is] one of the outstanding historians of our time.
This mischievously titled book is a collection of eighteen essays, or rather a learned miscellany that deals with the history of historians of scholarship in the Renaissance and Early Modern period. Students who dip into its pages will be delighted to find that wholesale borrowing, plagiarism, pastiche, misattribution and even imposture have a venerable history in academic life. Anthony Grafton's lucid, witty and often allusive prose brings to life not only a pantheon of eccentric individuals, but in keeping with the promise of the title makes the stuff of intellectual endeavour exciting… Studies on the history of early print culture are multiplying, but I found Grafton's summary of the explosion of printed material and the changes in readers' tastes (such as the decline in Latin publications after 1700) a clear and concise guide to the 'communicative shifts' in Early Modern Europe… This is a book no scholar of the period should be without.
- Harvard University Press
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- 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.77(d)
Meet the Author
Anthony Grafton is Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University.
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