Carlo Ginzburg's "The Cheese and the World" Book Review by Quality Writers

Carlo Ginzburg's "The Cheese and the World"
This paper discuses Carlo Ginzburg's book "The Cheese and the World" as a micro-history of the less considered aspects of 16th century Italy.
# 100963 | 5,000 words | 10 sources | MLA | 2007 | US
Published on Feb 13, 2008 in English (Analysis) , History (European - 16th Century) , Literature (Italian)

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This paper explains that Carlo Ginzburg's "The Cheese and the World"
relates, in the style of micro-history, the life of miller Menocchio (1532-1599) from the Italian district of Friuli, who was brought before the Inquisition in 1584 and 1599 on charges of heresy owing to his peculiar religious beliefs and was eventually burned at the stake. The author points out that Ginzburg, who is a noted micro-historian and expert on the Italian Renaissance and early modern European history, comments that Menocchio's predicament owed much to two great historical developments of his day: the advent of the printing press and the Reformation. The author suggests that most readers' perception of the Reformation and its surrounding culture will be upset by the way this book telescopes the arrival of the printing press into the thoughts of the later Renaissance as if these forces immediately changed consciousness.

Table of Contents:
The Printing Press
The Reformation
1599 - What a Heretic Said
On Micro-History
Concluding Remarks

From the Paper:

"In a manner much ahead of his time, Menocchio had argued that a religious person believed his faith to be true, just as the Christian believed that Christianity was the correct religion, with a remark too on people believing they embraced a superior culture when, in fact, who was to know this was true, or what an inferior culture might be. The inquisitor asked about the Three Rings and where Menocchio had encountered it, referring to a title as a prohibited book. Ginzburg explains how the Roman Catholic Church was by this time engaged in a "two-front war" against both high culture that would not conform to Counter-Reformation ideals and against popular culture that was showing more signs of questioning..."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Carter, J. and P.H. Muir. Eds. Printing and the Mind of Man - a Descriptive Catalogue Illustrating the Impact of Print on the Evolution of Western Civilization during Five Centuries. London: Oxford University Press, 1967.
  • Eisenstein, E.L. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change - Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge at the University Press, 1979.
  • Ginzburg, C. The Cheese and the Worms - The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Trans. J. and A. Tedeschi. New York: Penguin, 1982.
  • Grendler, P.F. Schooling in Renaissance Italy - Literacy and Learning, 1300-1600. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.
  • The Roman Inquisition and the Venetian Press, 1540-1605. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977.

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