The Renaissance Bazaar: From the Silk Road to Michelangelo

The Renaissance Bazaar: From the Silk Road to Michelangelo

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By (author) Jerry Brotton

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 231mm x 18mm | 476g
  • Publication date: 18 December 2003
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0192802658
  • ISBN 13: 9780192802651
  • Illustrations note: numerous halftones and 8 colour plates
  • Sales rank: 1,102,608

Product description

More than ever before, the Renaissance stands as one of the defining moments in world history. Between 1400 and 1600, European perceptions of society, culture, politics and even humanity itself emerged in ways that continue to affect not only Europe but the entire world. This wide-ranging exploration of the Renaissance sees the period as a time of unprecedented intellectual excitement and cultural experimentation and interaction on a global scale, alongside a darker side of religion, intolerance, slavery, and massive inequality of wealth and status. It guides the reader through the key issues that defined the period, from its art, architecture, and literature, to advancements in the fields of science, trade, and travel. In its incisive account of the complexities of the political and religious upheavals of the period, the book argues that Europe's reciprocal relationship with its eastern neighbours offers us a timely perspective on the Renaissance as a moment of global inclusiveness that still has much to teach us today.

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Author information

Dr Jerry Brotton is Senior Lecturer at the School of English and Drama, Queen Mary, University of London. He is the author of Trading Territories: Mapping the Early Modern World (Reaktion, London, 1997 and Cornell University Press, 1998), and with Lisa Jardine, Global Interests: Renaissance Art between East and West (Reaktion, London, 2000).

Review quote

Review from previous edition a young Turk who likes to entertain ... Brotton's book is full of arts and crafts ...engaging and alluring ...This is a Renaissance you can touch and feel Sunday Times energetic and committed agenda Financial Times offers some impressive fresh evidence Independent

Editorial reviews

The 'Bazaar' of the title captures the essence of this challenge to the received wisdom of what the European Renaissance was really about. It was a time when Europe started to define itself by emulating the wealth and cultures of the eastern empires, notably the Ottomans, the Persians and the Egyptian Mameluks. The exchanges in the bazaars of the east, the Arabic understanding of astronomy, philosophy and medicine, and the impact of Eastern cultures on mainland Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries call into question the traditional, limited understanding of the Renaissance. Brotton broadens the scope of the survey into one of global renaissance with scholarly authority and a gift for focusing on the significant image, whether a brilliant analysis of Holbein's Ambassadors, Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors set in an exhilarating and dangerous eastern marketplace, or a reading of the Bellini painting of St Mark preaching in Alexandria, which 'dresses up the contemporary world in the clothes of the past as a way of understanding the present'. Brotton clarifies the darker legacy of the Renaissance too - its use of art and architecture as 'power on display', its polarization of religious positions, which resulted in the persecution of Jewish communities, and the conflation of 'Turk and Protestant' in the Catholic Church condemnation of 'diabolical and heretical opinions', and then its arrogance in dividing the entire world into two - half the globe belonging to Charles V of Castile, and the other half to Portugal. Maps were treated like the precious commodities to which they seemed to promise access, as navigational information became a bargaining counter. A timeline, a further reading list, a comprehensive index and well-chosen and imaginative illustrations are valuable adjuncts to the excellent text, all bringing some sense of order to the sprawling splendour of this time of overwhelming change, when the printing press, eastern banking practices, and ideas of humanism harnessed to conflicting political powers shaped the Renaissance - and also our modern-day world. (Kirkus UK)

Table of contents

1. Introduction ; 2. Civilising the Renaissance ; 3. Putting Things into Perspective ; 4. The Renaissance in Black and White ; 5. Different Words of God ; 6. Brave New Worlds ; Timeline ; References ; Further Reading