Reads For The Road: "The Swerve — How The World Became Modern" by Stephen Greenblatt

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

While this is definitely not a read-before-bed book (it's fascinating, but the content requires a more alert mind), The Swerve is well worth the read. And that's not just my opinion — it is a National Book Winner, and won the Pulitzer Prize! 

Of course, all Poggio could hope to find were pieces of parchment, and not even ancient ones. But for him these were not manuscripts but human voices.
— from page 180 of "The Swerve" when Poggio is searching for a lost manuscript

Author Stephen Greenblatt takes us on a journey through antiquity to the moment that he believes is what caused a shift — though an imperceptible one at the time — in the world that helped usher in the modern age.

According to Greenblatt, the shift came in the winter of 1417 when former papal secretary Poggio Bracciolini discovered a manuscript buried in a monastic library called The Nature of Things. Written as an epic poem, it seems unlikely, at first, that this document by Lucretius could cause so much change in the world, but Greenblatt makes some very convincing arguments. 

The poem actually contained some incredibly revolutionary ideas for the time (remember, it reemerged in an era that was ruled by the Catholic Church and its Inquisition), and the way it was rediscovered and shared with the world is a pretty incredible story!