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From the PublisherKenneth Bartlett's The Civilization of the Italian Renaissance has long been my favorite sourcebook for undergraduate teaching; I could not be happier that it is coming back into print, and updated no less, so that I can assign it as a textbook. I teach a range of courses in the Renaissance, from broad art history surveys, to upper-division lectures and seminars, to interdisciplinary classes—all of which have benefited from this book. Bartlett has assembled not only the best sources, but the best selections from those sources. This is not a collage of short, obscure, or mystifying documents; rather, it is a collection of the most important thinkers and artists of the Renaissance, at their pithiest moments. For example, Alberti's On Painting, Vasari's Life of Michelangelo, and Cellini's Vita are all key texts that are too long and complex for most classes. Bartlett's selections from each are perfectly excised at the ideal length for teaching, and with their key themes intact. The book is endlessly adaptable to subject area (it includes art historical, literary, historical/political and philosophical sources) and to style of class—any material could be safely assigned to a lower-level Renaissance class, but much is in-depth enough for an upper-level lecture or seminar. There is no equivalent compendium of Renaissance sources for undergraduate teaching, which is why I have spent the last several years copying selections from the copy I purchased when it was assigned to me as an undergraduate textbook in 1994. I could not be happier to see this valuable teaching tool re-released, and to have the opportunity to share its contents with my students, as they were once shared with me.
Kenneth R. Bartlett has produced a fine second edition of his already useful sourcebook. Reflecting important recent research, he has added material on the social, economic, religious, political, and intellectual world of Italy from the late thirteenth to the sixteenth century. The texts are well suited for discussion and can be readily linked to lectures. For its accessibility and breadth of primary sources, this stimulating sourcebook is excellent and can be wholeheartedly recommended.
This is by far the best collection of readings for a semester-length course on the Italian Renaissance. What makes it unique is the balance between the usual literary sources and documents relating to political, economic, and family history, including the lives of women, marginalized people, and the poor. The magnificent range of sources is matched by the quality of the selections themselves, which bring to life the period in all of its complexity. I am particularly pleased to see that the second edition includes readings placing the Renaissance within the context of Dante's world.
I have used this book's predecessor since it first came out because it was easily the best such reader available. The new edition is signally improved not only by the addition of Dante as well as a number of other new readings but also by a handy and mercifully short guide to reading historical documents. The organization is also improved which makes it easier to find texts by the same author.