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The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy [Paperback]

Jacob Burckhardt
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 26, 2007 1426400934 978-1426400933
None of his successors, not even Cesare Borgia, rivalled the colossal guilt of Ezzelino, proposes the author.

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The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy + The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno (Penguin Classics) (Pt. 1) (English and Italian Edition)
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Editorial Reviews


“The greatest single book on the history of Italy between 1350 and 1550.”—Hajo Holborn --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 430 pages
  • Publisher: BiblioBazaar (October 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426400934
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426400933
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 4.9 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,789,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man Who Invented the Renaissance September 18, 2000
Jacob Burckhardt had one of those rare minds who could construct a new synthesis out of thought, government, art, and culture -- and who, for the first time, made it possible to talk about the Renaissance as a moment in the history of Western man.
This is a very dense work with flashes of genius as well as long scholarly footnotes with extensively quoted Italian and Latin. In a book by a dullard, this would be excruciating. But Burckhardt is anything but as he manages his material like a Moscow taxi driver: by accelerating and then coasting. When you least expect it, another epiphany draws you in.
Burckhardt's Renaissance was an incredible high in the history of mankind. The Medicis, Sforzas, and Malatestas strut their way through the history of the period; Dante, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bramante create works of the imagination that still overpower us; popes like Julius II, Alexander VI, and Leo X combine worldliness with spirituality (sometimes); and even the average man has a face and a voice for the first time.
This book will make your blood race.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best edition. July 27, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Yes, this is still the standard for studies of the Renaissance. But the book deserves a better edition: especially one with relevant illustrations on the page. The best I've seen is the 1958 two-volume Illustrated Edition by the Perennial Library of Harper & Row: not only are all notes conventiently at the bottom of the page, but over 240 illustrations grace the text, usually next to the mention of the subject. Too bad it is out of print. I hope an enterprising publisher will rise to the challenge.
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75 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Burckhardt the Prescient Historian July 26, 1999
For much of the last 139 years, Jacob Burckhardt's work has been dismissed as too "Nineteenth Century" for serious study: more literature than serious history. So much the pity. What Burckhardt left us in The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy is a magisterial, thematic, understanding of the Italian Renaissance that is far more 1990's in its observations and human understandings than its original 1860's. It is a shame that Burckhardt's famous pupil, Nietzsche, didn't learn a little more balance and discretion at his elder's feet. This book is a joy to read. Like Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, this work shows us how history can engage the spirit, and how far off the mark some modern historians have gone with their more "scholarly" work.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, awful edition March 15, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Burckhardt's brilliance is undeniable. His erudition is obvious and his synthesis of numerous themes and what would now be deemed separate academic disciplines is magnificent. The edition, however, was awful. Individual pages had literally dozens of typos and an entire half a chapter was printed twice. While I would gladly recommend the work, I strongly suggest finding another edition.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, "Antiquated" or Not March 11, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Burckhardt's 'Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy' is fundamental to our understanding of the Renaissance, even though it has long since ceased to be definitive. For Burckhardt (who wrote `Civilization' in the 1850s), the Italian Renaissance represented the punctuated end of the middle ages and the beginning of the modern world. He placed particular emphasis on the idea that for the first time in history, the Renaissance gave us "individuality": the idea that a person could separate themselves from the crowd by their creative genius (in art, politics, science, etc.).

Contemporary scholarship, however, takes a more nuanced approach: while Burckhardt did indeed identify in the Renaissance new cultural, political, and artistic trends, it is now argued that the Renaissance nevertheless retained many aspects of medieval civilization while the Italians, and later other Europeans, revived classical art, architecture, and science and created a new economic and political order.

Two different publishers of this book each offer introductions by two excellent contemporary historians: the Penguin Classics version is introduced by Peter Burke, and the Random House Modern Library version is introduced by Peter Gay. In the Penguin version (reviewed here) Burke (as elsewhere) argues that the Renaissance was not the clean break with the medieval past that Burckhardt suggests, although he readily acknowledges Burckhardt's foundational contribution to early Renaissance scholarship: "Burckhardt's view of the Renaissance may be easy to criticize, but it is also difficult to replace.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ciivilization of the Renaissance in Italy November 1, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A better book could not have fallen into my hands! An American professor in Venice recommended it, and after I read it I was only sorry I had not read it before going to Italy. The mystery of its medieval, rather Renaissance cities (Florence, Venice, among others) would have been clearer; even today's Italians' ways and personality. So much a product of Renaissance Italy...and its wonderful heritage from Ancient Rome. I truly recommend this book for Italy lovers, anyone going there soon, or for the sheer joy of reading a good history book. Jacob Burckkhardt is one of the most intelligent, enlightened historians I know.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Bag
This work is historically noteworthy because it redefined how history is told. The time period covered is fascinating and lends itself to the novel approach. Read more
Published 4 months ago by C. Thomas Work
3.0 out of 5 stars Exellent research book.
Great book if you are doing research. Endless flow of names makes it difficult to keep track of the story line.
Published 7 months ago by nelson crews
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic!
Although it's a book that has been surpassed, and i'm thinking here on Joan Kelly "Did women have a Renassaince?", it is still a classic book for cultural studies.
Published 11 months ago by Rafael Acevedo
4.0 out of 5 stars The Spirit of the Renaissance
In this classic work, Burckhardt elegantly reproduces the political, religious, social, intellectual, and artistic practices of Renaissance Italy. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Samuel J. Sharp
1.0 out of 5 stars 19th century garbage
Worse than out of date, this guy was unqualified as a historian even by 19th cetury standards.
This work has been a joke at University level studies for several generations,... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Eric
4.0 out of 5 stars An Oldie but Goodie
This book was very informative about the Italian Renaissance. I would have given it 5 stars except that the writing is quite dated.
Published 16 months ago by G. Chambers
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible reproduction
I never write reviews. But when an "editor" leaves footnote numbers in the text while cutting out the footnotes, you know there is a major problem... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Robyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Great non fiction
If your interested in the rennissance you need to read this. Well paced account of the history of the rulers of italy and their kingdoms.
Published 18 months ago by edward a zamora
5.0 out of 5 stars Cultural history as it should be written
I love this book for its sheer ease and "breeziness." It does not get bogged down in a lot of pedantic, dry, sterile academic postulating, as the books of most academic historians... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Giacomo
1.0 out of 5 stars Civilization? Not!
This was the worst purchase I have ever made at Amazon. The book is apparently out of print and consequently, was quickly printed for my order on the cheapest paper imaginable. Read more
Published on April 6, 2012 by A. Franco
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