Ex Libris Kirkland

Buy it from Amazon

Subtitle The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age
First Written 1993
Genre History
Origin US
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
ISBN-10 0316545562
ISBN-13 978-0316545563
My Copy library paperback
First Read September 17, 2011

A World Lit Only By Fire

While this is really written to keep a 'general interest' reader's attention, there's just an overall nasty tone here. Manchester seems to relish the details of anything bad that happened, and to expose unseemly details of anything good.

Noted on September 26, 2011

For a book that spends its first 150 pages on the Medieval age, Manchester sure hates everything about it.

Noted on September 21, 2011

His character was, of course, imperfect. But heroes need not be admirable, and indeed most have not been. The web of driving traits behind their accomplishments almost assures that. Men who do the remarkable - heroic and otherwise - frequently fail in their personal relationships. This unpleasant reality is usually glossed over in burnishing the images fo the great. So many eminent statesmen, writers, painters, and composers have been intolerable sons, husbands, fathers, and friends that they may fairly be said to have been the rule.

Quoted on September 26, 2011

Written in idiomatic, chatty Latin, these colloquies [of Erasmus] included a peculiar blessing to be bestowed on pregnant women: "Heaven grant that the burden you carry may have as easy an exit as it had an entry."

Quoted on September 26, 2011

But there had been little science and no modern civilization in the Dark Ages, when acceptance of papal supremacy by all Christendom had rescued a continent from chaos. Faith had literally held Europe together then, giving hope to men who had been without it.

Quoted on September 26, 2011

But Germany was unique, Christendom's greatest headache, presenting difficulties so vexing that there must have been times when pontiffs wished it had been left unconverted.

Quoted on September 26, 2011

The mighty storm was swiftly approaching, but Europeans were not only unaware of it; they were convinced that such a phenomenon could not exist. Shackled in ignorance, disciplined by fear, and sheathed in superstition, they trudged into the sixteenth century in the clumsy, hunched, pigeon-toed gait of rickets victims, their vacant faces, pocked by smallpox, turned blindly toward the future they thought they knew - gullible, pitiful innocents who were about tot be swept up in the most powerful, incomprehensible, irresistible vortex since Alaric had led his VIsigoths and Huns across the Alps, fallen on Rome, and extinguished the lamps of learning a thousand years before.

Quoted on September 26, 2011

It says much about the Middle Ages that in the year 1500, after a thousand years of neglect, the roads built by the Romans were still the best on the continent.

Quoted on September 26, 2011

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
Interested in talking about it?
Get in touch. You might also want to check out my other projects or say hello on twitter.