When Stephen Greenblatt (Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University) writes, the angels of the Humanities still their songs and listen, enthralled, emerging more learned on the ways of humankind. Greenblatt is a genius storyteller and scholar. Read all or any of his works, but please don’t miss The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (2011; winner of 2012 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction), or his latest, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve (2017). No need to waste more time reading my words now; Greenblatt awaits!!
— From Claudia's Picks
Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius--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, colliding and swerving in new directions.
The copying and translation of this ancient book-the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age-fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson.