Renaissance Lives: Portraits of an Age

Overview

With Renaissance Lives, Theodore K. Rabb revives a tradition of writing that was often practiced by the historians of that astounding era: to tell the story of an age by examining the lives of those who lived it. Rabb’s subjects are all people who felt change gather speed around them: from Titian and Galileo to Catherine de’ Medici and John Milton. In their stories we see, above all, the powers of ideas to liberate, to enthrall, to provoke, and to resolve conflict.Renaissance Lives shows us the struggle - with ...

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Overview

With Renaissance Lives, Theodore K. Rabb revives a tradition of writing that was often practiced by the historians of that astounding era: to tell the story of an age by examining the lives of those who lived it. Rabb’s subjects are all people who felt change gather speed around them: from Titian and Galileo to Catherine de’ Medici and John Milton. In their stories we see, above all, the powers of ideas to liberate, to enthrall, to provoke, and to resolve conflict.Renaissance Lives shows us the struggle - with its grave disappointments but also its extraordinary achievements—that accompanied the creation of the world we recognize as our own.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A companion volume to a PBS TV series, this collection of biographies examines the lives of 15 Renaissance personages and their accomplishments in relation to the enormous social upheavals that took place from the mid-1300s to the mid-1600s. Rabb ( The Struggle for Stability in Early Modern Europe ) has combined excellent scholarly research with splendidly crafted writing to provide accounts of both well-known and obscure Renaissance figures. Each life story highlights one facet of the transformations in religion, philosophy, the arts and the sciences that took place during this era. Theologian Jan Hus (1370?-1415) represents religious dissent; painter Titian (1487?-1576) and astronomer and physicist Galileo (1564-1642) were symbolic of the changing views of art and science; and the life of Gluckel of Hameln (1646-1724), a female Jewish merchant, reflects the economic revolution taking place. Enlightening and accessible. Illustrated. (Jan.)
KLIATT
A Princeton professor of history, Theodore Rabb served as principal historical advisor to a 1993 PBS series on the Renaissance. While this edition is apparently less lavish than the original companion piece to the series (the illustrations, while in generous supply, are small and in b/w), the text itself is a gem. Rabb tells the history of the Renaissance through the lives of 15 exceptional individuals. Some are well known: Petrarch; Teresa of Avila; Montaigne; John Milton. Some the reader may meet for the first time: the dissenter Jan Hus; the scholar Thomas Platter; a medieval businesswoman, Gluckel of Hamelin. In each case, Rabb presents a living, active person functioning in a vibrant age. Rabb's prose is exceptionally approachable and lively. Any one of these chapters could serve as supplemental reading at the junior high school level while the entire work in its overall scope could delight the more advanced reader. Highly recommended. KLIATT Codes: JSA*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Perseus/Basic Books, 263p, illus, 24cm, $18.00. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Patricia A. Moore; Brookline, MA, May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)
Library Journal
A companion to the forthcoming five-part PBS series on the Renaissance, this terrifically exciting book should also draw a wide audience in the general reading public. It is a survey of the tremendous change the European world underwent from 1350 to 1700 through a study of 15 people (four of them women) as represenative social types. Rabb (history, Princeton) shows that the essence of history is change; he challenges the traditional thesis that the Renaissance was an elitist movement with slight impact on ordinary people. He provides fresh insight into the lives and works of religious reformers like John Hus and St. Theresa of Avila, the artists Titian and Artemetia Gentileschi, the scientist Galileo, and the explorer Walter Raleigh. The career of Gluckel of Hameln, a tireless businesswomen, mother of 13 children, and staunch defender of her Jewish faith, is perhaps the most fascinating in the book. Enhanced by a lucid, imaginative style and provocative observations, this book is refreshing proof that distinguished scholars have begun to sense responsibility to a larger audience outside of the half-dozen specialists in their fields. Highly recommended.-- Bennett D. Hill, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C.
School Library Journal
YA-A companion to the television series, this book's immediacy and readability make these stories of Renaissance men and women accessible to modern readers. Each of the 15 lives examined here exemplifies the enormous diversity of that era. The book focuses on representatives of social types to show the age in a microcosm, and yet each of the individuals profiled is larger than life. They include not only the expected ``Renaissance Man'' Sir Walter Raleigh, but also less well-known individuals such as Ralph Josselin, a Protestant minister whose diaries give a detailed account of life as a country vicar. Gluckel of Hamlin typifies the limited role allowed to women and to Jews at the time; Artemisia Gentileschi exemplifies the courage and determination required of female artists; and Catherine de'Medici represents the rulers whose patronage of the arts is most often associated with this great age. The text is accompanied by black-and-white and full-color plates that depict the works of the great masters of the times, portraits of the subjects, and examples of the subjects' work. Educators who wish to show how economics, science, art, philosophy, and religion are interrelated will find this volume especially insightful.-Jackie Gropman, Richard Byrd Library, Springfield, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465068005
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 12/28/2000
  • Pages: 263
  • Sales rank: 283,257
  • Lexile: 1300L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.01 (w) x 9.07 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Theodore K. Rabb is a professor of Renaissance and early modern history at Princeton University. He has written or edited more than twenty books, including Renaissance Lives.

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