Carlo Ginzburg's "The Cheese and the Worms" Analytical Essay by writingsensation

Carlo Ginzburg's "The Cheese and the Worms"
This paper reviews historian Carlo Ginzburg's book "The Cheese and the Worms: the Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller", which provides a rare view into the religious and philosophical beliefs of lower class Christendom during the sixteenth century.
# 67760 | 2,055 words | 1 source | MLA | 2005 | US
Published on Jul 17, 2006 in English (Analysis) , History (European - 16th Century) , Literature (Italian)

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This paper explains that, in Carlo Ginzburg's "The Cheese and the Worms: the Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller", the miller Menocchio, who was charged with heresy in Italy at the age of fifty-two, and then again fifteen years later, is a tale of class conflict and how the tension between the classes in the sixteenth century was influenced by the Protestant Reformation. The author points out that this period was a tumultuous time, both socially and religiously, because of the emergence in Europe of the middle class as illustrated by Menocchio's raise from the peasant tradition to become a moderately wealthy miller. The paper states that the case of Menocchio can be seen as a reaction to an oppressive ruling class, which was unique because of the new influence of literature on lower society and because it was one of the first times that a poor, self-taught individual dared to stand-up to the ecclesiastical order on the basis of logic.

From the Paper:

"Still, many people in Menocchio's social position were unable to read or write as well as he could. And certainly, very few people in his time, who were exposed to the writings in his library, reached the same conclusions he rested upon. Yet "this distinctiveness had very definite limits. As with language, culture offers to the individual a horizon of latent possibilities-a flexible and invisible cage in which he can exercise his own conditional liberty." (Ginzburg, xx). This too, is hard to deny-an individual may be considered uncommon within his culture, but it is difficult to separate him from his culture completely. So, although Menocchio held many unusual beliefs, these beliefs cannot be removed from the context they came out of. "

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