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Book Jungle provides classic literature in a modern format. Thousands of historical titles are now readily available to the public. Because of the original condition of many of these historical manuscripts, imperfections are possible. The value of these manuscripts lies in their historical significance and vivid accounts of the world from thousands of authors and storytell Book Jungle provides classic literature in a modern format. Thousands of historical titles are now readily available to the public. Because of the original condition of many of these historical manuscripts, imperfections are possible. The value of these manuscripts lies in their historical significance and vivid accounts of the world from thousands of authors and storytellers. Book Jungle is proud to bring these rare volumes back into public use and to make them availableto everyone.

30 review for The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (eBook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kalliope

    How could I express the sheer pleasure I have had in reading this book? It is not easy to find historians or writers of Burckhardt’s calibre. Published in 1860, this icon of a book deserves its place as a model of historiography of the highest quality. Not many have served as a double linchpin. Burckhardt took up Michelet’s term of “Renaissance” and provided an exhaustive and brilliant analysis of what the term embodied in the Italy of the 13th- 16th Centuries. That was the more specific contrib How could I express the sheer pleasure I have had in reading this book? It is not easy to find historians or writers of Burckhardt’s calibre. Published in 1860, this icon of a book deserves its place as a model of historiography of the highest quality. Not many have served as a double linchpin. Burckhardt took up Michelet’s term of “Renaissance” and provided an exhaustive and brilliant analysis of what the term embodied in the Italy of the 13th- 16th Centuries. That was the more specific contribution. But in this study Burckhardt also created a new field of inquiry. With him cultural history was born. I have read it in translation, but the text is pure delectation nonetheless. Burckhardt is in no hurry to express what he has to say because there is such assuredness in his ideas. Neither is there unwonted prolixity because his language is not more elaborate than his knowledge. His smooth prose keeps the same elegant pace as befits the dignity of his thought. For his erudition flows as clearly as limpid water. For example, he knows Dante as well as if he were his brother, but his reading has not stopped at the notorious founding fathers of the Renaissance and feels as familiar with a Matteo Villani, Aeneas Sylvius, Niccolò de Niccoli, Giacomo Piccinino, to name just very few. His mastery results from his deep familiarity with a very wide collection of primary sources. He has read them all.. And a similar acquaintanceship is demonstrated in other fields, whether these are painting, music, politics, ecclesiastical matters, sociological, military, etc. His overall thesis is clear: during this time and place the Individual was invented and shaped in all its dimensions so that it could stand well on its feet and in all fields. And his thesis is then amply, soundly, thoroughly, and methodically elaborated and demonstrated. In his articulation of the historical understanding of culture he starts with the standard: politics. Italy certainly offers him a wide array of possible systems, from large to smaller despotisms and its critics, and to its alternatives: the acclaimed Republics. But in all of these systems he has detected the disappearance of Feudalism, which was however sustained for a while longer in the other European countries. For him then the political systems of Italy are works of art. In tracing the development of the Individual he does not stop short at the creation of new Personalities (we now have the names for the craftsmen), but also looks at its other less glorious consequence: the ridicule and humour of that which has been particularized. His elaboration of the Renewal of Antiquity is brilliant. It involved more than exploring the ruins and resuscitating forgotten writers and translating new ones, but also its new forms of teaching, and the eventual stagnation of creativity. Stale imitation could easily become formulaic until it would bring about its own demise and loss of prestige. This was the period in which frontiers were broken. Burckhardt embarks on following those discoveries as the Italians set out in their travels, in their examination of their natural surroundings, whether this was for aesthetic discoveries, seeing for the first time that landscapes could be beautiful—as Petrarch demonstrated--, or for the revelation of scientific principles. With the individual as the basic unit, the writing of biographies took a new impetus and emphasis in this land and this time. Benvenuto Cellini’s Autobiography is as exquisite as his jewels. Burckhardt’s emphasis on the individual does not mean that he forgets that this new kind of creature is a social one. He then proceeds with an exhaustive review of how this society structured itself; how its members communicated with each other—whether through language or other means—; how it projected itself—in dressing or in theatrics—; how and in what it sought entertainment, solace or merriment; in sum, how it lived. As the son of a Calvinist priest, Burckhardt would have to leave for the end, and conclusion, how this new Individual, emerging after a long theocratical period, reconciled his existence with the realm of eternity, with immortality. The last section is devoted to organized Religion and other beliefs, as well as to the slippery question of morals. For us this book remains a rich lesson. For what Burckhardt can still teach us about the Renaissance, and for the ingenious approach. As a historian, he would not have denied that he was also part of his times, place and society. If at the beginning of the reading some of his prejudices may cause a reader of today’s society shift somewhat uncomfortably in his/her seat when some nations or cultures were perceived by him as part of that awkward "Other”, eventually his beautiful speech lulls our minds and we can follow his tune and eliminate, without much ado, some sporadic discordances.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hadrian

    "Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly." Even if Harry Lime was right, he was wrong. Burckhardt, the man who invented the modern history of the Renaissance, was S "Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly." Even if Harry Lime was right, he was wrong. Burckhardt, the man who invented the modern history of the Renaissance, was Swiss. History's funny like that.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “Thus what the word Renaissance really means is new birth to liberty—the spirit of mankind recovering consciousness and the power of self-determination, recognizing the beauty of the outer world and of the body through art, liberating the reason in science and the conscience in religion, restoring culture to the intelligence, and establishing the principle of political freedom.” ― John Addington Symonds, Renaissance in Italy Often, when writing about the Renaissance there is tendency among exper “Thus what the word Renaissance really means is new birth to liberty—the spirit of mankind recovering consciousness and the power of self-determination, recognizing the beauty of the outer world and of the body through art, liberating the reason in science and the conscience in religion, restoring culture to the intelligence, and establishing the principle of political freedom.” ― John Addington Symonds, Renaissance in Italy 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    This work bears the title of an essay in the strictest sense of the word. I did not know what I was getting into when I opened this book. I assumed that it was simply a narrative history of the Renaissance, and thus I figured it would be mostly review. But there is no narrative to be found in these pages. Rather, Burckhardt gives us the pioneering work of cultural history, changing both our picture of the Renaissance and our ideas about how to write history. A comparison with Gibbon is instruct This work bears the title of an essay in the strictest sense of the word. I did not know what I was getting into when I opened this book. I assumed that it was simply a narrative history of the Renaissance, and thus I figured it would be mostly review. But there is no narrative to be found in these pages. Rather, Burckhardt gives us the pioneering work of cultural history, changing both our picture of the Renaissance and our ideas about how to write history. A comparison with Gibbon is instructive. While Gibbon arranged all of his material into chronological order, searching for causes and effects in the ceaseless stream of history, hoping to finally solve that mystery of the ages—namely, why did Rome fall?—Burckhardt is almost entirely unconcerned with causes. His book is not an attempt to explain the Italian Renaissance, but to describe it. Thus he takes the approach of an anthropologist studying a people, hoping to understand a foreign culture. He describes the political structure, the social hierarchy, the forms of education, the attitude towards the environment, the role of women, the religious rituals, the common superstitions, and much more. In the process, many events and people are portrayed, but only as illustrations of attitudes, ideals, mentalities. What emerges is a picture of the Renaissance Mind. Burckhardt’s book is far from perfect. For one, he wrote it for fellow scholars, not anticipating his book's popularity; thus he presupposes quite a thorough knowledge of Renaissance history, constantly making references without explanations. What is more, his approach of anthropological history rests on the presupposition, which he tries to justify, that the culture of the Italian Renaissance was uniform and constant enough in the centuries between Dante and Michelangelo that scant attention need be paid to chronology. And in the attempt to sharply delineate the Italian Renaissance from both the medieval period and the rest of Europe, Burckhardt makes some dubious generalizations (especially about the Spanish, whom Burckhardt did not like). Besides all this, it is somewhat unsatisfying to have a history book that is so unconcerned with historical causation. At the very least, a modern treatment of the Renaissance wouldn’t so totally neglect economics, as Burckhardt does. These faults notwithstanding, this book is a true classic of history. Burckhardt is so engrossed in the material, with such a deep knowledge of all the thinkers and writers, with all the pertinent facts at his fingertips, that you cannot but feel awed by the performance. He is also such a stately writer. Even in translation, his prose is elegant, managing to preserve the intimacy of an essay within the strictures of a historical treatise. This stateliness also describes his turn of mind. Burckhardt manages to be both brief and leisurely in his exposition, never rushing, never too eager to prove his point, and yet tackling complex topics in just a few pages. Whether he was right or not, whether this is an accurate picture of the Italian Renaissance, I cannot say; but it is a brilliant and important work of scholarship, an impressive and inspiring feat.

  5. 5 out of 5

    AC

    A masterpiece. One has to be sure, of course, to find a copy that includes the photographic plates -- which are essential (the penguin edition includes only the text and so is incomplete). Worth whatever you pay.... If there were six stars available on this board, I would give it ten.... http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=LuUuYnX...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    Well, I guess that's what old history is like. Burckhardt piles up his anecdotes and, true to his word, gives you his own picture of the Italian Renaissance. Don't go looking for a narrative of events, or precise information. It's all allusion and generalities. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I think I would've had a better time if I'd known that at the beginning. The problem with this book is so obvious that it's almost silly to point it out: Burckhardt's picture of the Renaissance is, Well, I guess that's what old history is like. Burckhardt piles up his anecdotes and, true to his word, gives you his own picture of the Italian Renaissance. Don't go looking for a narrative of events, or precise information. It's all allusion and generalities. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I think I would've had a better time if I'd known that at the beginning. The problem with this book is so obvious that it's almost silly to point it out: Burckhardt's picture of the Renaissance is, shall we say, a little partial. Everything the Italians did in the fifteenth century was wonderful and lovely; everything the 'Northerners' did before that was barabarous; everything the Spanish did after that - and boy, do the Spanish come in for a beating - was equally barbarous. The Muslims were okay, although they were a bit grasping and oppressive. In short, only in Italy in the fifteenth century was life lived properly. So it's pretty amusing when he says, at the start of his final chapter on morality, "A tribunal there is for each one of us, whose voice is our conscience; but let us have done with these generalities about nations." He has to say this, though, so that we won't judge the Italians' morality too harshly All those murders, all that violence, the horrors? Just a consequence of the 'individualism' of the times. Can't be helped. Better that than a world in which men don't go around f'ing and killing whoever they want to. Don't judge the whole nation of Italians. Judge only all the other nations. This is all nit-picky, of course. It's nicely written, and I'm sure everyone who's interested will find bits that appeal to them one way or the other. At least he doesn't try to theorize everything. But be aware that this book is basically a book about how the writers in the Renaissance saw themselves, and not, as the title implies, about the civilization itself. The middle ages weren't all that bad, and the Renaissance wasn't all that good.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    This is THE reference book about the Renaissance in terms of the view held up to Panofsky and 20c art criticism by the venerable Jacob Burckhardt. Required reading for students of art history, it is an interesting study of the world during the Renaissance. Highly criticized nowadays for its obsession with Italy and its bashing of the Middle Ages, I still found it interesting - especially since I read Panofsky and others beforehand. I felt that Burckhardt definitely had a thing for Italy and thus This is THE reference book about the Renaissance in terms of the view held up to Panofsky and 20c art criticism by the venerable Jacob Burckhardt. Required reading for students of art history, it is an interesting study of the world during the Renaissance. Highly criticized nowadays for its obsession with Italy and its bashing of the Middle Ages, I still found it interesting - especially since I read Panofsky and others beforehand. I felt that Burckhardt definitely had a thing for Italy and thus misses quite a lot that was happening in Flanders and France (both in Paris and Avignon) from an artistic point of view. However, his analysis of Italian politics and art is still arguable one of the best around. The style is very erudite, however, so the tepid fan might want to try something lighter (see my review of A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bernardo Kaiser

    The civilization that Buckhardt describes in this book is one that slowly leaves the middle ages style of government in fiefdoms and burghs and centralizes it's power under a bureaucratic authority. According to him, this made possible for humanist and creative artistic and moral expressions to flourish and art to become freer and better able to capture the intricacies of human emotions. Well I disagree. The portrait painted by Buckhardt in relation to the civilization of the Renaissance is not t The civilization that Buckhardt describes in this book is one that slowly leaves the middle ages style of government in fiefdoms and burghs and centralizes it's power under a bureaucratic authority. According to him, this made possible for humanist and creative artistic and moral expressions to flourish and art to become freer and better able to capture the intricacies of human emotions. Well I disagree. The portrait painted by Buckhardt in relation to the civilization of the Renaissance is not the most favorable one. On the contrary, is one of coups, conflicts, tyranny and death. Culture goes along the same way and although it's forms do flourish, art loses all it's popular spontaneity and become a mere mouthpiece for the ruling head. The only creative and rebel exception is the one found in moralistic and thus religious art, like the ones from Dante (for whom Buckhardt has a huge crush), Bocaccio and Bosch, Brueghel and Rabelais among other european nations. Being faithful to a superior authority than the earthly one, religion allows art to fully criticize what it sees as a corrupt and degenerate society. See what Deleuze mentions in his Vincenne classes: the creative freedom of christianity. But this are just disagreements. This book should be celebrated as having inaugurated the field of cultural history, of even "history of feelings", which I guess is much more fun than regular history. There are moments of great beauty throughout the book, like when he describes italian geography as enchanted by it as the renaissance man newly found love for nature, or how he exceptionally chooses to analyze popular superstition. However sometimes it just feels like a mish-mash, it's theory of renaissantist gender equality is self defeating and disproves itself a few pages later and sometimes it just feels like he mixed the general life of the elites as a mutual conscience of a people. Which brings to the question if something we can call "Renaissance" ever existed to the regular man at all and if far from elevating the general spirits it's true consequences for the poor of Italy were not only a more strict bureaucracy, political and religious oppression and war.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike Hankins

    Burkhardt's famous work on the Renaissance may seem difficult to read by modern sensibilities, but it truly started something very new. There are two main ideas at play here. First, the idea that the Renaissance is the first time that humanity starts to recognize and celebrate individuality. Secondly, Burkhardt is using a methodology very different from historians before him. He's not concerned with narrative of events, with politics or military developments. Instead, he is examining Renaissance Burkhardt's famous work on the Renaissance may seem difficult to read by modern sensibilities, but it truly started something very new. There are two main ideas at play here. First, the idea that the Renaissance is the first time that humanity starts to recognize and celebrate individuality. Secondly, Burkhardt is using a methodology very different from historians before him. He's not concerned with narrative of events, with politics or military developments. Instead, he is examining Renaissance culture through its art, its music, its poetry, basically, the things that it made. This materialistic approach to cultural history is very interesting, and forces us to ask interesting questions about ourselves. What does our architecture, our workspaces, our furniture, say about us? Burkhardt's language is out of date and difficult for many, and he is full of anecdoes and random stories. The pile of random Italian names grows and grows until the reader gets numb to the various stories, and keeping track of the various personalities being brandied about becomes overwhelming. Yet slogging (or skimming) through these sections rewards the reader with interesting insights and a different way of looking at history. For Burkhardt, the Renaissance is where modernity begins. Individuality as we know it starts there. Modern ways of thinking about science, philosophy, art, social relations, and politics all begins with developments in Renaissance Italy. He may be overstating his case, but it is interesting nonetheless. There are of course problems. His book, written in the mid 1800s, shows its age pretty terribly. Much newer research has updating many of his claims. Some assertions, like his claim that women and men were totally equal in this time, are almost laughable. His work also lacks any sort of structure. No introduction or conclusion, no clear transition passages, the work at times appears as notes for a a different, nonexistent work. Despite these flaws, his work was incredibly influential and spawned new schools of thought among historians. Few historians have been as influential as Burkhardt.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Miles

    'Ah, the old war-horse,' an English professor of mine said when I told him I was going through this book years ago in college. I have to say, its not quite Decline and Fall or Thucydides but its almost up there in the pantheon. This really is a great history, and a real eye-opener on one of our most valuable legacies in the heritage. Burckhardt opens up with a bang--the book is divided into two sections--with 'the State as a Work of Art,' which details the desperate evil of the multitudes of ill 'Ah, the old war-horse,' an English professor of mine said when I told him I was going through this book years ago in college. I have to say, its not quite Decline and Fall or Thucydides but its almost up there in the pantheon. This really is a great history, and a real eye-opener on one of our most valuable legacies in the heritage. Burckhardt opens up with a bang--the book is divided into two sections--with 'the State as a Work of Art,' which details the desperate evil of the multitudes of illegitimate petty tyrants in Italy then launching into our general revival of antiquity, discovery of man as individual, festivals, nature, art...there is just so much here. Rereading this has really been a pleasure. For anyone having an even vague notion of Italy's contributions, please don't miss this. I remember my last years of school going through all the epics of Tasso, Ariosto, Boirardo and Pulci. It was such a different style and so extremely elegant! This age is really one of such fire and passion. The multitude of individuals here and their multifarious talents makes your head swim.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

    Burckhardt's classic study is a great work stylistically; structurally, it's kind of a mess. I thought it would be a rewarding read because of its historiographical prominence and because I didn't know much about the Renaissance. After reading it, I still don't feel like I have a handle on the Renaissance. I don't think it's fair to comment too much on Burckhardt's methodology by contemporary standards, but it's often unclear what his sources are and how he is using them. His dating of the Renais Burckhardt's classic study is a great work stylistically; structurally, it's kind of a mess. I thought it would be a rewarding read because of its historiographical prominence and because I didn't know much about the Renaissance. After reading it, I still don't feel like I have a handle on the Renaissance. I don't think it's fair to comment too much on Burckhardt's methodology by contemporary standards, but it's often unclear what his sources are and how he is using them. His dating of the Renaissance is also different from what I expected, and many of the people featured (Dante, Petrarch, Castiglione) are what I have long regarded as late medieval figures. This is especially significant when you realize just how much of the book is about Dante. This is worth reading, a building block in my understanding of historiography and of the Renaissance. I just wish it were a bit more substantial in that sense.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cărăşălu

    This is not your typical modern history book. It's more like a huge, chaotic essay where Burckhardt eulogizes the Italians of the Renaissance era. His style is labyrinthine and there's a lot of personal opinion and value judgements, which are not only expressed as such, but play an essential role in Burckhardt's argumentation or narrative line. There's a lot of detail and examples (probably thousands of Italian names - priests, writers, princes and whatnot), which really bogs down the reading. I This is not your typical modern history book. It's more like a huge, chaotic essay where Burckhardt eulogizes the Italians of the Renaissance era. His style is labyrinthine and there's a lot of personal opinion and value judgements, which are not only expressed as such, but play an essential role in Burckhardt's argumentation or narrative line. There's a lot of detail and examples (probably thousands of Italian names - priests, writers, princes and whatnot), which really bogs down the reading. I started skipping large chunks at one point because it was simply too much. It's not a book written for lay readers, Burckhardt obviously expects readers to be very familiar with the history and personalities of the era. If you are not, try another book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    sologdin

    Masterful. The 'state as a work of art' is fucking fantastic, conceptually and rhetorically, very fertile, &c. Plenty else.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Linus Williams

    Burckhardt, in this massive tome, gives an overview of the major political, societal, and religious themes that occurred during the Renaissance. He starts off with the State as a work of out, then moves into a more individualistic perspective, and closes with the influence of (pagan) antiquity and morality. He clearly wants to cover all important aspects of Italian society during this time period, but his writing style prevents him from completing this task successfully. He shifts and flits arou Burckhardt, in this massive tome, gives an overview of the major political, societal, and religious themes that occurred during the Renaissance. He starts off with the State as a work of out, then moves into a more individualistic perspective, and closes with the influence of (pagan) antiquity and morality. He clearly wants to cover all important aspects of Italian society during this time period, but his writing style prevents him from completing this task successfully. He shifts and flits around from subject to subject, never spending too much time on any one, which makes it intensely hard to follow while reading, even while within the same chapter. The book almost seems to have been written in a "stream-of-consciousness" format. The other big issue, although one it's not really fair to criticize Burckhardt for, is that the book is FULL of biases, and they show through very easily. He never really touches upon the fall of Constantinople which was the impetus for the true flowering of the Renaissance, and he's very skeptical of the contributions of the Arabs to the renaissance. However, he was writing in the mid-19th century, so his point of view is understandable in historical context Overall, not a great book about the Renaissance, but certainly an impressive one. I'd like to read more in depth about each of the things he touches on, with more background, but for an overview, it isn't awful.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lizzytish

    I read it. Got to know a lot about Dante. Dante is so important because he broke the mold of writing in Latin. He wrote in Italian, in the common language for the common people. I did get a kick out of the macaroni poetry. It was written in such a way that the Latin endings sounded like slips of the tongue. I didn't realize how many authors there were back then. My head was swimming with all those names and titles. There was a section in there on paid assassins. Makes me wonder if that's where the Ma I read it. Got to know a lot about Dante. Dante is so important because he broke the mold of writing in Latin. He wrote in Italian, in the common language for the common people. I did get a kick out of the macaroni poetry. It was written in such a way that the Latin endings sounded like slips of the tongue. I didn't realize how many authors there were back then. My head was swimming with all those names and titles. There was a section in there on paid assassins. Makes me wonder if that's where the Mafia got its roots. The Church was extremely corrupt. Supposedly women were equal to men.Elderly people were encouraged not to sing or perform in music as it had to do as much as impressions made on one's sight. False hair and perfumes were really in style. They would even perfume their mules. Oh and blonde was the in color. There was a dance where fools (jesters) would get up and beat each other with pig's bladders. There was even a real King Wenceslaus! I recommend this book to sufferers of insomnia.

  16. 4 out of 5

    DoctorM

    A brilliant piece of writing--- and the source for what so many of us in my generation believed about the history of the Renaissance. The prose here was celebrated in Peter Gay's (classic) "Style in History" for both its cool patrician detachment and deep aesthetic sense, and reading Burckhardt is a pleasure. I have a History PhD, and I've taught History at universities--- and while there are newer visions of the place and time that are more "scientific" and based on findings and techniques unav A brilliant piece of writing--- and the source for what so many of us in my generation believed about the history of the Renaissance. The prose here was celebrated in Peter Gay's (classic) "Style in History" for both its cool patrician detachment and deep aesthetic sense, and reading Burckhardt is a pleasure. I have a History PhD, and I've taught History at universities--- and while there are newer visions of the place and time that are more "scientific" and based on findings and techniques unavailable to Burckhardt, "Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy" is always and ever the place to start. History grew out of literature, not science, and Burckhardt is a master of narrative and of creating a world. Witty, ironic, put together out of a mastery of sources and a wealth of cultured knowledge--- you can't begin to know 15th-c. Italy without Burckhardt.

  17. 5 out of 5

    José Luis

    I was looking for a book about the renaissance period in our modern history. Just to have an understanding of the context in which the Renaissance happened, without being much linked to dates. I just wanted to read and understand as much as possible. And this is the book I needed, I selected it by reading readers comments at amazon.com. It was a rich trip through XIV, XV, XVI and part of XVII centuries in Italy. The author, Jakob Burckhardt, carried out a very long and thorough research, the res I was looking for a book about the renaissance period in our modern history. Just to have an understanding of the context in which the Renaissance happened, without being much linked to dates. I just wanted to read and understand as much as possible. And this is the book I needed, I selected it by reading reader´s comments at amazon.com. It was a rich trip through XIV, XV, XVI and part of XVII centuries in Italy. The author, Jakob Burckhardt, carried out a very long and thorough research, the result was this excellent book that I would recommend to anyone interested in ancient history and particularly in the Renaissance time lapse.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    Absolutely amazing book, filled with information and brutal, awe-inspiring anecdotes. This book is the oration on the dignity of the Italian Renaissance as the sole great, pure, classical event of the earth after the fall of Rome. I only wish the author had supressed his rare yet bothersome moralistic comments.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Superficial overview of life in Italy during the Renaissance. Doesn't hold up well several centuries after it was originally written.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth S

    This is an excellent scholarly work. However, it's also one I'd recommend readers approach with caution if they're not coming in with a background on the Renaissance period. Burckhardt's book is rather more an essay, split into sections. Some of the sections are concise and easy to follow. Others span tens of pages and seem to get a little lost in themselves. I have to give leeway for his structural challenges because I can't imagine the author expected quite so wide an audience to delve into this This is an excellent scholarly work. However, it's also one I'd recommend readers approach with caution if they're not coming in with a background on the Renaissance period. Burckhardt's book is rather more an essay, split into sections. Some of the sections are concise and easy to follow. Others span tens of pages and seem to get a little lost in themselves. I have to give leeway for his structural challenges because I can't imagine the author expected quite so wide an audience to delve into this work. Overall, it's an incredibly interesting and wonderful piece of contextualization. The clearest part of the Renaissance that people tend to study even tangentially is the artwork. Yet of course no transformative aspect of the period came out of nowhere. That's precisely what makes The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy such a valuable book. Burckhardt pulls upon everything from changing views of morality to styles of dress to further explain how the Renaissance developed across these states. There is a helpful amount of references to the involvement of surrounding countries and kingdoms, as well. At some points, this does rather obviously show the partiality of the work. After all, it's not as if Italy was the only place things were this amazingly transformative. But, then again, viva l'Italia! If you picked up a book about the Renaissance in Italy, inevitably you're about to read about just how great Italy was, especially when it came to fostering the all important Renaissance. Despite these flaws - some of which can probably be attributed to how long ago this work was written, and thus the less expansive amount of research done on the affects of the Renaissance elsewhere - this is truly an insightful, fascinating study. Nonetheless, it is a highly stylized work, which was originally published in 1860 (a fact that is still clear through the translated writing). So if this is not your cup of tea or potentially seems daunting, you may want to wait until you dive deeper into Renaissance history. I'm glad I read this book, and I feel as though I gained a lot from it. At the same time, I can't say it was necessarily the most enjoyable read about the period I've had or one that gripped me the most. That is perhaps just a result of its somewhat stilted, essay-like language, which can be great, but sometimes overwhelming for more than 100 pages.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kiely Marie

    Burckhardt makes a lot of wild accusations and statements (like: Pietro Aretino was the father of modern journalism! Renaissance Italians didn’t think of themselves as defined by their race! Umm... how about no? Let’s not say things like that?) and most of the opinions, coming from a Swiss historian written 140 years ago, seem ridiculously outdated. Most of the book is easy to read, though I did not particularly enjoy how the book hit the ground running with a long discourse on despots in govern Burckhardt makes a lot of wild accusations and statements (like: Pietro Aretino was the father of modern journalism! Renaissance Italians didn’t think of themselves as defined by their race! Umm... how about no? Let’s not say things like that?) and most of the opinions, coming from a Swiss historian written 140 years ago, seem ridiculously outdated. Most of the book is easy to read, though I did not particularly enjoy how the book hit the ground running with a long discourse on despots in governments in Renaissance Italian states; and I particularly enjoyed the parts about individuality and the “discovery of man.” This book is a good way to understand what people thought about the renaissance 150 years ago, but it might not be the most relevant and reliable source for what we think about it today.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kari Trenten

    This book gives readers a skeleton overview of Renaissance Italy, delivered in beautiful prose by one whom shows true devotion to his subject. It offers a picture of the politics, the change of thought, the revival of interest in Graeco-Roman classics, and some of the larger than life individuals whom contributed to this period of history. At the same time, the author’s opinions often cloud and obscure the picture he’s trying to paint with words, making it difficult to sift fact from prejudice. This book gives readers a skeleton overview of Renaissance Italy, delivered in beautiful prose by one whom shows true devotion to his subject. It offers a picture of the politics, the change of thought, the revival of interest in Graeco-Roman classics, and some of the larger than life individuals whom contributed to this period of history. At the same time, the author’s opinions often cloud and obscure the picture he’s trying to paint with words, making it difficult to sift fact from prejudice. Those prejudices cast doubt on the overall accuracy of his account, while contradicting his own words, skewing the picture further, leaving the reader wondering what the truth is behind the contradictions. Regardless, I found this text is compelling, engaging, informative, and an enjoyable read, in spite of my irritation at its skewed perspective.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Commonly viewed as THE authority on the Renaissance in Italy, Burckhardt offers a definitive take on the birth of the Renaissance. While his thinking is intriguing and he makes reasonable connections between events and changes in thinking, politics, social changes and the rise of extraordinary individuals of singular talent, his work is just as interesting for what he gets wrong. The subject of many critical works, Burckhardt's nineteenth-century love letter to the Italian Renaissance is neverth Commonly viewed as THE authority on the Renaissance in Italy, Burckhardt offers a definitive take on the birth of the Renaissance. While his thinking is intriguing and he makes reasonable connections between events and changes in thinking, politics, social changes and the rise of extraordinary individuals of singular talent, his work is just as interesting for what he gets wrong. The subject of many critical works, Burckhardt's nineteenth-century love letter to the Italian Renaissance is nevertheless an essential step towards our understanding of the moment of the Renaissance and the beginning point for many other philosophical and ideological theories.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Castles

    it's surprisingly readable for a book from 1860, but that's just not good enough for the modern reader. Jacob Burckhardt is definitely very smart and probably one of the first and most major renaissance historians, but the book is too scattered, full of anecdotes which you better have background in Italian history to understand, and the number of random characters and events that comes and goes are just too big to grasp or really make any sense of. The book is written as if aimed for a very well e it's surprisingly readable for a book from 1860, but that's just not good enough for the modern reader. Jacob Burckhardt is definitely very smart and probably one of the first and most major renaissance historians, but the book is too scattered, full of anecdotes which you better have background in Italian history to understand, and the number of random characters and events that comes and goes are just too big to grasp or really make any sense of. The book is written as if aimed for a very well educated crowd of scholars, and for that reason, those are probably the ones who'll benefit from this book the most.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    A history book published in 1860. What's probably most remarkable is that it was as readable as it was. But for those who love history, it is a pretty good look at both Reneissance Italy and the worldview of a nineteenth century Swiss man. You'll get more out of this if you have at least a basic understanding of the major players in the Italian Reneissance. When I started I did not have that and I was lost. But after reading a couple books about and set in the time period, things made far more s A history book published in 1860. What's probably most remarkable is that it was as readable as it was. But for those who love history, it is a pretty good look at both Reneissance Italy and the worldview of a nineteenth century Swiss man. You'll get more out of this if you have at least a basic understanding of the major players in the Italian Reneissance. When I started I did not have that and I was lost. But after reading a couple books about and set in the time period, things made far more sense.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    "In the Middle Age...man was conscious of himself only as a member of a race, people, party, family, or corporation - only through some general category. In Italy this veil first melted into air; an objective treatment of the state and all the things of this world became possible. The subjective side at the same time asserted itself with corresponding emphasis; man became a spiritual individual, and recognized himself as such."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cade

    This book is written by a very erudite man to an audience of scholars. For me, many of the people, events, and even places he references in passing as illustrations were totally unknown to me. This made the content a little hard to follow which made me lose interest/concentration at times. I did appreciate the chance to be introduced to perspectives on a wide range of topics from this era.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Great book if considered in context Assumes a substantial background knowledge, including people, events, literature, even works of art. Yet- its a must for a student of historiography and of the renaissance.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vicky P

    Illuminating as to how a lot of scholars still think about the renaissance today, although many ideas have very obviously been completely reversed since the middle of the nineteenth century. Very readable.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nicholasdm

    Comprehensive, detailed, interesting but also quite a challenge to complete. Burckhardt knows the subject matter inside out and can introduce new connections to any reader.

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