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The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller / Edition 1

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Overview

The Cheese and the Worms is a study of the popular culture in the sixteenth century as seen through the eyes of one man, a miller brought to trial during the Inquisition. Carlo Ginzburg uses the trial records of Domenico Scandella, a miller also known as Menocchio, to show how one person responded to the confusing political and religious conditions of his time.

For a common miller, Menocchio was surprisingly literate. In his trial testimony he made references to more than a dozen books, including the Bible, Boccaccio's Decameron, Mandeville's Travels, and a "mysterious" book that may have been the Koran. And what he read he recast in terms familiar to him, as in his own version of the creation: "All was chaos, that is earth, air, water, and fire were mixed together; and of that bulk a mass formed—just as cheese is made out of milk—and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels."

Reconstructs 16th-century Italy through the trial record of a miller who was sent to the stake for heresy during the Roman Inquisition of 1599.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post - Lauro Martines
Ginzburg has excavated a marvelous and melancholy tale. Lay readers know that historical work of this order requires formidable skills and dogged research... Ginzburg's discovery of Menocchio is a dazzling entry into the historical world of popular culture.
New York Review of Books - J. H. Elliott
A wonderful book... Ginzburg is a historian with an insatiable curiosity, who pursues even the faintest of clues with all the zest of a born detective until every fragment of evidence can be fitted into place. The work of reconstruction is brilliant, the writing superbly readable, and by the end of the book the reader who has followed Dr. Ginzburg in his wanderings through the labyrinthine mind of the miller of the Friuli will take leave of this strange and quirky old man with genuine regret.
New York Review of Books
A wonderful book... Ginzburg is a historian with an insatiable curiosity, who pursues even the faintest of clues with all the zest of a born detective until every fragment of evidence can be fitted into place. The work of reconstruction is brilliant, the writing superbly readable, and by the end of the book the reader who has followed Dr. Ginzburg in his wanderings through the labyrinthine mind of the miller of the Friuli will take leave of this strange and quirky old man with genuine regret.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801843877
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.07 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Carlo Ginzburg has taught at the University of Bologna, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. The recipient of the 2010 International Balzan Prize, he is author of The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries and Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method, also published by Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2001

    useful but not scholarly

    Dr. Ginsberg's book is a handy primer of the belief systems held by a tolerably educated gentleman in Early Modern Europe. Though not suitable for citation in academic papers, the book is a fascinating window into popular culture. I would place this work in the same category as Natalie Davis' 'Return of Martin Guerre,' or any of Barabara Tuchmann's works.

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    Posted June 8, 2011

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