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The European Renaissance in American Life [Hardcover]

Paul F. Grendler

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Book Description

March 30, 2006 0275984869 978-0275984861 1

An informative but light-hearted look at the popularity of the Renaissance today, this book was written by a Renaissance scholar intrigued with the way his subject continues to resonate outside the scholarly community. His purpose is to uncover and describe the many manifestations of America's love of the Renaissance. Why do millions don costumes to attend Renaissance Faires? Why do novels and films about the period enjoy continued popularity, as do Renaissance icons such as Elizabeth I, Michelangelo, Shakespeare and the Mona Lisa? How is it that American politicians and business leaders still look to Machiavelli as a symbol of wisdom-or of evil? Grendler posits that Americans embrace the Renaissance as a model of culture and sophistication, seeing it as confirmation that the individual can achieve greatness against long odds, a belief at the core of our own society.

After an examination of The Real Renaissance (1400-1620), the book looks at ways in which Americans relive the experience (including Faires and Living Last Suppers), ways in which we re-create the Renaissance in our own world, and finally, ways in which the Renaissance is portrayed, for better or worse, in fiction and film.

Editorial Reviews


"Paul Grendler's book examines how and why the famous figures and icons of Renaissance Italy and Renaissance England resonate so well outside the scholarly community. He works hard to point out ways in which these modern interpreters beyond the ivory tower have used, or misused, the principal ideas and achievements of this era….The book should be useful to lower-level undergraduates and to adult students, and it will be amusing and thought-provoking to faculty and graduate students."



"Renaissance faires, costume parties, outdoor festivals, company names, Shakespeare movies, and a new love for the principles of Machiavelli are among the evidence American scholar of the Italian Renaissance Grendler cites for a renaissance of the Renaissance in the US over the past couple of decades. Before describing the recent incarnation, he summarizes the first Renaissance, from 1400-1620."


Reference & Research Book News/Art Book News Annual

"For anyone wanting to be more observant and knowledgeable of the European Renaissance period's influence on today's society, this text is a wonderful read."


Smoke and Fire News

"Americans like the Renaissance. So concludes distinguished Renaissance scholar Paul F. Grendler in this book every sholar should read. The European Renaissance in American Life is a work that in less sympathetic hands might have devolved into yet another satire of American middle-class, middle-brow, and middle-mind culture. In Grendler's hands, however, America's love affair with the Renaissance comes off as something more than whimsy, kitsch, or simple goofiness….[a]nd emerges as a challenge to those of us who toil daily at revealing, critiquing, deconstructing, or simply understanding the Renaissance….As far as it goes, Grendler's is a terrific book and a wonderful read."


Renaissance Quarterly

"Intended for a general audience, this book examines how the term Renaissance is used in modern US culture and why it remains so popular with the general public. Grendler draws upon decades of experience as a professor, author, and editor to gently point out ways in which Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and the Medici are (mis)used by today's politicians, management gurus, filmmakers, and novelists. The introduction describes the real Renaissance as Grendler sees it (i.e., the movement from 1400 to 1620, beginning in Italy and celebrating achievements in art, education, poetry, and high culture), while the conclusion discusses the recent turn in the academy away from Renaissance in favor of early modern….Recommended. Public and undergraduate libraries."



"The opening pages offer a concise, well-presented summary of the period 1400-1620…a prelude to the rest of the book. If a faculty member needed to introduce the period quickly, these pages would do that job well."


Sixteenth Century Journal

Book Description

Explores how and why the Renaissance idea remains so popular today by examining our cultural links to the past as well as the popularity of the term and idea in all aspects of modern life.

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