Monday, July 2, 2012

The Swerve and a bit of Paris

My trip to Paris has been delayed because I am caught up in reading The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt. It is a fascinating book about one poem written 2000 years ago, lost, then found in the 1400s and how the ideas and philosphies of the poem helped usher in the Renaissance.

The main guy, an Italian named Poggio Bracciolini, was a book-hunter and was on the quest to find Greek and Roman books that were rotting away in monastery libraries. The poem he found was On the Nature of Things written by Lucretius, based on the philosphy of Epicurus.

There is much talk of the books of antiquity: how they were made, who had them, who read them, and how they were lost.

Here is a warning tale: As the Roman empire crumbled...

..the whole Roman system of elementary and higher education fell apart. What began as downsizing went on to wholesale abandonment. Schools closed, libraries and academies shut their doors, professional grammarians and teachers of rhetoric found themselves out of work. There were more important things to worry about than the fate of books.

Those 'more important things' included decaying cities, declining trade, and barbarians at the gate.

Why does this sound like something out of today's newpapers?

Anyway, on to Paris. One of the books on my list is Paris Was Ours which I bought in March and read a story here  and here. I have read quite a few books this year that regale the wonders of Paris and if you have not read The Greater Journey by David McCullough I highly recommend it. It will have you swooning.


  1. I've just requested the McCullough book. Thank you for the recommendation.

    I'm off to Paris! Here's my
    Paris in July post.
    Please stop by and leave a link to your Paris in July post(s) so that we can stop in and say hello.

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Deb Nance. The Greater Journey is a fabulous read. Not only did I learn Paris history, I learned American history as well. A twofer!

      I am off to your site to say bonjour!