The Swerve

The Swerve : How the Renaissance Began

3.83 (21,090 ratings by Goodreads)
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Almost six hundred years ago, a short, genial man took a very old manuscript off a library shelf. With excitement, he saw what he had discovered and ordered it copied. The book was a miraculously surviving copy of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things by Lucretius and it changed the course of history.

He found a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas - that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion. These ideas fuelled the Renaissance, inspiring Botticelli, shaping the thoughts of Montaigne, Darwin and Einstein.

An innovative work of history by one of the world's most celebrated scholars and a thrilling story of discovery, The Swerve details how one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, made possible the world as we know it.

Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Nonfiction
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 23mm | 267g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • col. Illustrations
  • 0099572443
  • 9780099572442
  • 33,477

Review Text

"More wonderfully illuminating Renaissance history from a master scholar and historian (starred review)"
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Review quote

"Superbly readable... An exciting story, and Greenblatt tells it with his customary clarity and verve" -- Robert Douglas-Fairhurst * Daily Telegraph * "Superb history ... this concise, learned and fluently written book tells a remarkable story" -- Charles Nicholl * Observer * "Dazzling" * Guardian * "In this outstandingly constructed assessment of the birth of philosophical modernity, renowned Shakespeare scholar Greenblatt deftly transports reader to the dawn of the Renaissance...Readers from across the humanities will find this enthralling account irresistible" * Library Journal * "More wonderfully illuminating Renaissance history from a master scholar and historian (starred review)" * Kirkus Reviews *
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About Stephen Greenblatt

Stephen Greenblatt is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is the author of twelve books, including The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, which won the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize, as well as the New York Times bestseller Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare and the classic university text Renaissance Self-Fashioning.

He is General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and of The Norton Shakespeare, and has edited seven collections of literary criticism.
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Rating details

21,090 ratings
3.83 out of 5 stars
5 32% (6,727)
4 35% (7,328)
3 22% (4,642)
2 7% (1,572)
1 4% (821)
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