How the World Became Modern

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stephen Greenblatt tells how one ancient manuscript, brought to light after a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it. The Swerve: How the World Became Modern looks at the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius, sparked 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.


Stephen Greenblatt
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Comments [6]

Sara from NYC

The ancients did not believe the purpose of life was happiness in the form of pleasure (and neither did Jefferson). They believed that the purpose of life was to lead a good life, which in turn was a life of flourishing, not hedonism.

Sep. 20 2011 05:32 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Bachmann wants to repeal the Renaissance? So her thinking really is medieval!

Sep. 20 2011 01:37 PM
Victor Deupi from Fairfield CT

Vitruvius' account of the origins of building largely follows Lucretius. Both were discovered by Bracciolini and the influence of Vitruvius on Renaissance architecture is enormous. Thoughts?

Sep. 20 2011 01:36 PM
Mike from Canarsie

Interesting interview, but in Italian, "o" is pronounced as "o," not as "a."

Sep. 20 2011 01:36 PM
Dan Kulkosky from NYC

It sounds as if Lucretius might have influenced Schopenhauer. Would the German philosopher have been familiar with the work?

Sep. 20 2011 01:31 PM
Ed from Larchmont

The Church doesn't accept atomism because if disagrees with Eucharistic theology.

Sep. 20 2011 01:29 PM

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