The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt -356 pages
The author is a humanities scholar intrigued by the philosophical ideas of an ancient Epicurean-inspired poem and its influence on the Renaissance. On the Nature of Things was composed in the First Century B. C. by the Roman author Lucretius, and was rediscovered in a monastic library in 1417 by a papal secretary. The ancient Epicureans did not believe in the intervention of any gods, and thought only a physical world made up of tiny atoms existed. The poem’s surprisingly modern view of nature and its beautiful writing made it a subject of interest to Renaissance elite in a world dominated by Church doctrine. Some readers may conclude the author overestimates the poem’s impact on a movement as varied as the Renaissance, but this an interesting book on how Renaissance figures were dedicated to preserving ancient writers.