The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy

  • by Jacob Burckhardt
  • Narrated by Geoffrey Howard
  • 14 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this landmark study of Italy from the 14th through the early 16th centuries, Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt chronicles the rise of Florence and Venice as powerful city-states, the breakup of the medieval worldview that came with the rediscovery of Greek and Roman culture, and the new emphasis on the role of the individual. All these, Burckhardt explains, went hand in hand with the explorations of science and the more naturalistic depiction of the world in art and literature.Within the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Burckhardt finds the first stirrings of the modern world and, in the Renaissance Italian, the first modern man. His book-length essay includes discussions of all aspects of Italian civilization: art, fashion, literature, and the music of the time, as well as the flourishing of intellectual and spiritual life.

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What the Critics Say

"An engrossing world of politics and popes, religion and renegades, lifestyles and literature that few historical works encompass....a joy for devotees of the Renaissance." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A nest as beautiful as the bird(s) it bore

Often, when writing about the Renaissance there is tendency among experts/writers/historians to focus on the well-plumed bird and ignore the nest. Burckhardt spends nearly 400 pages carefully detailing the Tuscan nest of the Renaissance that embraced, protected, and incubated the great Italian artists of the Rinascimento (Giotto to Michelangelo, etc).

Burckhardt first describes the state in Italy and carefully describes the rise of the despots, the energy of the republics, and the push and the pull of the papacy. He builds on this, describing the development of the individual, Italy's relationship with its Classical past. Finally, Burckhardt details the science, society and religion of Italy during those impressive years between 1350 and 1550.

I think Daniel J. Boorstin summarized it best when he said Burckhardt "offered a classic portrait of the men and institutions that gave the era its characters and made it the mother of modern European civilization."

Like Gibbon's fantastic 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' it is tempting to gloss over how drastically the craft of history was changed by this book. Burckhardt wasn't interested in a stale or utilitarian history. He wanted a nest that was just as beautiful as the bird it bore.
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- Darwin8u "I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^"

Like a questionnaire

I regret purchasing this book. I gave it up after listening for close to 3 hours because I feel that it reads like a questionnaire. A long list of names and accompanaying each: Was he gruesome? Yes, no. Did he try to grab wealth wherever possible? Yes, no. Did he have a wife renowned for her beauty and devotion to the local church? Yes, no. Did he murder someone? Yes, no. Was he murdered? But no presentation, and no future promise of one, on what these facts may possibly relate to use about the renaissance in Italy. Extremely boring in my opinion.
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- Ingelin

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-08-2006
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.