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Epicurus, Lucretius, Hypatia, Shakespeare, Montaigne. A history of the book, 'On the Nature of Things' (de rerum natura). Thomas Jefferson had five copies in Latin as well as translations in English, French and Italian. Pretty much why the phrase "the pursuit of Happiness" is one of the three unalienable rights of humans in the US Declaration of Independence. There is so much talk today about what the other two, Life and Liberty, mean I find it's easy to forget it has equal billing. The book is recommended.

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Comment Preferences

  •  WTF? I'm a professor and do cultural studies (4+ / 0-)

    and lit and all that good stuff but what the heck are you talking about for those who a) don't know Greenblatt's work, b) don't know what the book is about and c) might want some context or background on your thinking about how it relates to our Declaration of Independence?  Develop your thoughts, expand, make an argument, give links please!

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 08:58:47 AM PST

  •  I agree with both of you (10+ / 0-)

    This book is absolutely awesome, but this diary is incoherent.

    "The Swerve" is a book about a book hunter during the Dark Ages, shortly before the Renaissance -- one of a small number of people who felt oppressed by the ignorance of his times and hung onto his sanity by obsessively searching for lost treasures of Latin literature in monastery libraries across Europe. He made the discovery of a hundred lifetimes, the one and only surviving copy of a forgotten book called De Rare Naturum -- "On the Nature of Things" -- by Lucretius. Once he copied it out and began circulating it, it took off like wildfire, because the book is both gorgeous as Latin poetry and intellectually stimulating as a complete re-thinking of the nature of reality. Lucretius's concept of a world made out of atoms is strikingly similar to our own modern view, and according to the author of "The Swerve," the widespread circulation of this manuscript in Europe was a major factor in pushing European thinking towards modernity. It even influenced Thomas Jefferson and many other Enlightenment thinkers. "The Swerve" is an intellectual adventure and may inspire some readers -- at least this is true for me -- to find out more about Lucretius and De Rare Naturum.

    Please visit:

    by Noisy Democrat on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 09:14:37 AM PST

  •  Greenblatt's Swerve (2+ / 0-)

    is a great read. To me it was about the beginning's of humanism which was dead and buried in the Dark Age. As an artist who loves art history it shines a light on  the transition into the Renaissance. His other book which I just finished Will of the World is a fascinating look at Shakespeare's times and how 'How Shakespeare became Shakespeare'. Another great read, which gives insight to human progress and a view of what it was like to live in the ages that shaped our western civilization for better or for worse. Highly entertaining to boot.      

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