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No Island Is An Island
     

No Island Is An Island

by Carlo Ginzburg
 

In No Island Is an Island an internationally renowned historian approaches four works of English literature from unexpected angles. Following in the footsteps of a sixteenth-century Spanish bishop we gain a fresh view of Thomas More's Utopia. Comparing Bayle's Dictionary with Tristram Shandy we suddenly enter into Laurence Sterne's mind.

Overview

In No Island Is an Island an internationally renowned historian approaches four works of English literature from unexpected angles. Following in the footsteps of a sixteenth-century Spanish bishop we gain a fresh view of Thomas More's Utopia. Comparing Bayle's Dictionary with Tristram Shandy we suddenly enter into Laurence Sterne's mind. A seemingly narrow dispute among Elizabethan critics for and against rhyme turns into an early debate on English national identity. Robert Louis Stevenson's story "The Bottle Imp" throws a new light on Bronislaw Malinowsky's attempts to discover meaning in the "kula" trading system among the Trobriand Islanders. Throughout, Ginzburg's inquiry is informed by his unique microhistorical sensibility, his attention to minute detail, and his extraordinary synthesizing imagination.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Ginzburg, an Italian Renaissance historian, here turns his attention to representative works from various stages in English literature. He studies Thomas More's Utopia, Elizabethan poetry, Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, and Robert Louis Stevenson's The Bottle Imp, concentrating on how the works of British authors were influenced in their style and rhetorical modes by models in Continental literature. Thus, Utopia's satire is derived from the Roman comic writer Lucian, and Sterne's differing devices in Shandy are taken from Bayle's Dictionary, banned in France in 1697. In a wide-ranging analysis, Ginzburg describes how poets in 16th-century England debated the pluses and minuses of rhyme as opposed to the more classical poetry of ancient Greece and Rome. In the chapter on Stevenson, the critic shows how the writer was influenced by Balzac's La Peau de Chagrin and how The Bottle Imp in turn helped to mold the theories of Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski. These complex, clever essays, first given as lectures at Columbia and Cambridge universities, will appeal to scholars who choose to view literature and history in an international, comparative context. For graduate-level library collections.--Morris Hounion, New York City Technical Coll. Lib., CUNY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Through paired eclectic readings, the noted U. of California, Los Angeles "microhistorian" illuminates four works of early modern English literature about fictitious or real islands: More's , Bayle's , Sterne's , and Robert Lewis Stevenson's "The Bottle Imp." Includes book and art illustrations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231116282
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
10/01/2000
Series:
Italian Academy Lectures Series
Pages:
138
Product dimensions:
0.44(w) x 8.50(h) x 5.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi
A welcome and refreshing example of what an eminent historian, heir to the most cosmopolitan traditions of humanism, can accomplish.

Meet the Author

Carlo Ginzburg's work has been published in eighteen languages. He teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is the Franklin D. Murphy Chair of Italian Renaissance Studies. His books in English include The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller, The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, and Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches'Sabbath.

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