April 16, 2017 by AK
My cohort and I were wolfing down a book a day in those months, looting each for thesis and argument, so we could regurgitate debates, and discuss how our own projects fit with the larger questions of the field. Only two books refused on that list to be so digested: Carlyle’s [Hero Worship and the Heroic in History], and Burkhardt’s The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy.
That’s not surprising – difficult people, difficult books. More precisely, both works are “unskimmable.” Not because the writing is bad – although it’s probably unacceptable by today’s academic standards – but because it’s too rich and complex:
Each paragraph of both was such a work of rhetoric and rhythm that the quick eye-slide from first sentence to last was as meaningless as connecting the first and final chords of a line of Renaissance polyphony without the intricate structure which transported us from A to B.
It gets more interesting from there onward – too good to be missed but too long to be quoted. Start from the second paragraph of this post.