Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Non-Fiction One of the world's most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt has crafted both an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it. 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.
Nearly six hundred years ago, On the Nature of Things by Lucretius was discovered on a library shelf. The book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, filled with 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. The copying and translation of this ancient book fuelled 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 revolutionary influence on writers from Montaigne to Thomas Jefferson.
Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World is widely recognised to be the fullest and most brilliant account ever written of Shakespeare's life, his work and his age. Shakespeare was a man of his time, constantly engaging with his audience's deepest desires and fears, and by reconnecting with this historic reality we are able to experience the true character of the playwright himself. Greenblatt traces Shakespeare's unfolding imaginative generosity - his ability to inhabit others, to confer upon them his own strength of spirit, to make them truly live as independent beings as no other artist has ever done. Digging deep into the vital links between the playwright and his world, Will in the World provides the fullest account ever written of the living, breathing man behind the masterpieces.
“Endlessly illuminating and a sheer pleasure to read.” —Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography Daring to take the great biblical account of human origins seriously, but without credulity The most influential story in Western cultural history, the biblical account of Adam and Eve is now treated either as the sacred possession of the faithful or as the butt of secular jokes. Here, acclaimed scholar Stephen Greenblatt explores it with profound appreciation for its cultural and psychological power as literature. From the birth of the Hebrew Bible to the awe-inspiring contributions of Augustine, Dürer, and Milton in bringing Adam and Eve to vivid life, Greenblatt unpacks the story’s many interpretations and consequences over time. Rich allegory, vicious misogyny, deep moral insight, narrow literalism, and some of the greatest triumphs of art and literature: all can be counted as children of our “first” parents.
The Norton Shakespeare brings to readers a meticulously edited new text that reflects current textual-editing scholarship and introduces innovative teaching features. The print and digital bundle offers students a great reading experience in two ways - a printed volume for their lifetime library and a digital edition ideal for in-class use. Every play introduction, note, gloss and bibliography has been reconsidered in light of reviewers ' suggestions, and new textual introductions and performance notes reflect the extensive new scholarship in these fields.
Marvelous Possessions is a study of the ways in which Europeans of the late Middle Ages and the early modern period represented non-European peoples and took possession of their lands, in particular the New World. In a series of innovative readings of travel narratives, judicial documents, and official reports, Stephen Greenblatt shows that the experience of the marvelous, central to both art and philosophy, was cunningly yoked by Columbus and others to the service of colonial appropriation. He argues that the traditional symbolic actions and legal rituals through which European sovereignty was asserted were strained to the breaking point by the unprecedented nature of the discovery of the New World. But the book also shows that the experience of the marvelous is not necessarily an agent of empire: in writers as different as Herodotus, Jean de Léry, and Montaigne—and notably in Mandeville's Travels, the most popular travel book of the Middle Ages—wonder is a sign of a remarkably tolerant recognition of cultural difference. Marvelous Possession is not only a collection of the odd and exotic through which Stephen Greenblatt powerfully conveys a sense of the marvelous, but also a highly original extension of his thinking on a subject that has occupied him throughout his career. The book reaches back to the ancient Greeks and forward to the present to ask how it is possible, in a time of disorientation, hatred of the other, and possessiveness, to keep the capacity for wonder from being poisoned? "A marvellous book. It is also a compelling and a powerful one. Nothing so original has ever been written on European responses to 'The wonder of the New World.'"—Anthony Pagden, Times Literary Supplement "By far the most intellectually gripping and penetrating discussion of the relationship between intruders and natives is provided by Stephen Greenblatt's Marvelous Possessions."—Simon Schama, The New Republic "For the most engaging and illuminating perspective of all, read Marvelous Possessions."—Laura Shapiro, Newsweek
"An exciting collection of essays on English Renaissance literature and culture, this book contributes substantially to the contemporary renaissance in historical modes of critical inquiry."--Margaret W. Ferguson, Columbia University "An exciting collection of essays on English Renaissance literature and culture, this book contributes substantially to the contemporary renaissance in historical modes of critical inquiry."--Margaret W. Ferguson, Columbia University
"Multiverse" cosmologies imagine our universe as just one of a vast number of others. While this idea has captivated philosophy, religion, and literature for millennia, it is now being considered as a scientific hypothesis—with different models emerging from cosmology, quantum mechanics, and string theory. Beginning with ancient Atomist and Stoic philosophies, Mary-Jane Rubenstein links contemporary models of the multiverse to their forerunners and explores the reasons for their recent appearance. One concerns the so-called fine-tuning of the universe: nature's constants are so delicately calibrated that it seems they have been set just right to allow life to emerge. For some thinkers, these "fine-tunings" are evidence of the existence of God; for others, however, and for most physicists, "God" is an insufficient scientific explanation. Hence the allure of the multiverse: if all possible worlds exist somewhere, then like monkeys hammering out Shakespeare, one universe is bound to be suitable for life. Of course, this hypothesis replaces God with an equally baffling article of faith: the existence of universes beyond, before, or after our own, eternally generated yet forever inaccessible to observation or experiment. In their very efforts to sidestep metaphysics, theoretical physicists propose multiverse scenarios that collide with it and even produce counter-theological narratives. Far from invalidating multiverse hypotheses, Rubenstein argues, this interdisciplinary collision actually secures their scientific viability. We may therefore be witnessing a radical reconfiguration of physics, philosophy, and religion in the modern turn to the multiverse.
The dream of capturing and organizing knowledge is as old as history. From the archives of ancient Sumeria and the Library of Alexandria to the Library of Congress and Wikipedia, humanity has wrestled with the problem of harnessing its intellectual output. The timeless quest for wisdom has been as much about information storage and retrieval as creative genius. In Cataloging the World, Alex Wright introduces us to a figure who stands out in the long line of thinkers and idealists who devoted themselves to the task. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, Paul Otlet, a librarian by training, worked at expanding the potential of the catalog card, the world's first information chip. From there followed universal libraries and museums, connecting his native Belgium to the world by means of a vast intellectual enterprise that attempted to organize and code everything ever published. Forty years before the first personal computer and fifty years before the first browser, Otlet envisioned a network of "electric telescopes" that would allow people everywhere to search through books, newspapers, photographs, and recordings, all linked together in what he termed, in 1934, a réseau mondial--essentially, a worldwide web. Otlet's life achievement was the construction of the Mundaneum--a mechanical collective brain that would house and disseminate everything ever committed to paper. Filled with analog machines such as telegraphs and sorters, the Mundaneum--what some have called a "Steampunk version of hypertext"--was the embodiment of Otlet's ambitions. It was also short-lived. By the time the Nazis, who were pilfering libraries across Europe to collect information they thought useful, carted away Otlet's collection in 1940, the dream had ended. Broken, Otlet died in 1944. Wright's engaging intellectual history gives Otlet his due, restoring him to his proper place in the long continuum of visionaries and pioneers who have struggled to classify knowledge, from H.G. Wells and Melvil Dewey to Vannevar Bush, Ted Nelson, Tim Berners-Lee, and Steve Jobs. Wright shows that in the years since Otlet's death the world has witnessed the emergence of a global network that has proved him right about the possibilities--and the perils--of networked information, and his legacy persists in our digital world today, captured for all time.