The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance

Atheneum, 1994 - 648 sider
In this extraordinarily rich and engaging book, John Hale has painted, on a grand canvas, what he calls "an investigative impression" of one of the highest points of European civilization: the flourishing, between 1450 and 1620, of the period we have come to call the Renaissance. It was an age that, wrote Marsilio Ficino in 1492, "has like a golden age restored to light the liberal arts which were almost extinct: grammar, poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, music". The book contains memorable descriptions of all of these. But Hale is not concerned simply with the arts: his interest is much wider. "(This) was the first age in which the words 'Europe' and 'European' acquired a widely understood significance. It saw the emergence of a new and pervasive attitude to what were considered the most valued aspects of civilized life. It witnessed the most concentrated wave of intellectual and cultural energy that had yet passed over the continent...It was also a period in which there were such dramatic changes of fortune for better of worse - religious, political, economic and, through overseas discoveries, global - that more people than ever before saw their time as unique, referring to 'this new age, ' 'the present age, ' 'our age'; to one observer it was a 'blessed age, ' to another, 'the worst age in history".'. Hale paints his picture with an astonishing multiplicity of themes, people, and ideas. How did Europeans see themselves and others? What united them and separated them, both geographically and within their communities? What languages did they speak and write, and how widely? How did they fix themselves in time and space? What did they call civilized? What did they buy and sell?How did they dress and eat? What did they think about and how did they communicate their thoughts? One of the strengths of this book, which moves far beyond conventional or social history, is that it resists the temptation to answer any of these questions simply or glibly, or to impose unifying characteristics on the period or the continent. Instead, Hale allows people to speak for themselves, bringing the age to life with wonderful freshness, immediacy, and diversity. His canvas is not covered with broad brushstrokes, but with pointillist details and individual voices; there is something pleasing and unexpected in every corner. The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance is the most ambitious achievement of one of the world's leading Renaissance historians and is itself a landmark in the humanist tradition whose origins it describes. And at a time when the meanings of "Europe" and "European" culture are being questioned and debated, it is also a book that shows us where we can find the roots of both of them, and how much the present and future can be illuminated by the past.

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LibraryThing Review

Brukerevaluering  - baswood - LibraryThing

Civilization curiously spelt with a z by this very British historian is an overview of Europe in what John Hale refers to as the long sixteenth century (he qualifies this as 1450-1620). It is not a ... Les hele vurderingen

LibraryThing Review

Brukerevaluering  - pranogajec - LibraryThing

This is a spectacular example of synthetic history. It incorporates many of the concerns of recent historiography while conveying a clear sense of the momentous changes and sheer exuberance that mark ... Les hele vurderingen


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