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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Starter
This is an excellent starter book, giving the background to the development of arts, patronage and society in Renaissance Italy. If you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of literature on the subject - as I did - this is a great place to start. I wouldn't expect pictures in a book this size (see other reviews) and its neatness means you can carry it around with you. Paul...
Published on 2 Oct. 2009 by RubyRed

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Renaissance Sampler
This was a tough one to call as far as how many stars to give it...I was wavering between 3 and 4. The most accurate rating would probably be 3 1/2 stars. On the negative side there are two drawbacks to the book. The first is, if you have already read a few books on the Renaissance you won't find much that is new here. The second drawback is the lack of pictures- really...
Published on 11 Mar. 2003 by Bruce Loveitt


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Renaissance Sampler, 11 Mar. 2003
By 
Bruce Loveitt (Ogdensburg, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Renaissance (UNIVERSAL HISTORY) (Paperback)
This was a tough one to call as far as how many stars to give it...I was wavering between 3 and 4. The most accurate rating would probably be 3 1/2 stars. On the negative side there are two drawbacks to the book. The first is, if you have already read a few books on the Renaissance you won't find much that is new here. The second drawback is the lack of pictures- really inexcusable in a book of this kind. (That is probably the primary reason I went with 3 stars rather than 4.) The majority of the book deals with architecture, sculpture and painting. How can you not include reproductions? I realize the publisher wanted to keep the price down, but they could have at least included a few plates...even some black and white ones would have been helpful (especially in the sections on architecture and sculpture, where color is not that essential). On the positive side, if you haven't read anything on the Renaissance this book is a good starting point. Mr. Johnson provides some historical background, and then he tells a little bit about key figures in all of the areas mentioned above, (and before he gets into the visual arts he has a good chapter on the heavyweights in the areas of literature and scholarship). Another good thing about the book is that even though it is short and Mr. Johnson has to cram in a lot of people, the book isn't written like an encyclopedia. The prose isn't dry. The author is enthusiastic and isn't afraid to express his opinions. (Those of you who have read other books by Mr. Johnson know that he certainly cannot be accused of being wishy-washy. He is very confident concerning the correctness of his opinions!) To give you an example, Mr. Johnson includes several pages on Dante and Chaucer- to show that even though they wrote in an earlier period they were harbingers of what the Renaissance was all about...they were fascinated by individual human beings and therefore created characters who were real rather than archetypes. In discussing Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" Mr. Johnson has this to say: "These men and women jump out from the pages, and live on in the memory, in ways that not even Dante could contrive. There is genius here of an inexplicable kind: Chaucer is one of the four English writers- the other three being Shakespeare, Dickens and Kipling- whose extraordinary ability to peer into the minds of diverse human creatures defies rational explanation and can only be attributed to a mysterious 'daemon.'" Mr. Johnson's comments are usually interesting and pertinent but he occasionally shoots from the hip and says something silly, such as the following: "(Albrecht) Durer was unusually thoughtful and articulate for a painter..." I could give Mr. Johnson a long list of intellectual and/or articulate artists, which would include Rubens, Delacroix, Degas, Van Gogh, Matisse, Duchamp, Picasso, Braque, etc. All because someone creates with paint (or music, one might add) doesn't mean they aren't thoughtful or able to express themselves in words. Fortunately, comments such as this are the exception rather than the rule and Mr. Johnson is more often sensible than he is silly. In summary, this is a good book for the reader who doesn't know a lot about the Renaissance, and the pleasing style will make the reader want to learn more about the topics and people that are discussed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Starter, 2 Oct. 2009
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This review is from: The Renaissance (UNIVERSAL HISTORY) (Paperback)
This is an excellent starter book, giving the background to the development of arts, patronage and society in Renaissance Italy. If you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of literature on the subject - as I did - this is a great place to start. I wouldn't expect pictures in a book this size (see other reviews) and its neatness means you can carry it around with you. Paul Johnson's style is most engaging, a very easy read without being patronising or over-academic. He gives some succint bullet-points about individual architects for example, which give you good 'jumping off' points for further investigation. I like it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, 20 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Renaissance (UNIVERSAL HISTORY) (Paperback)
Clear concise history of the Renaissance, a very good read would be a very good book illustrated with a few of the items mentioned.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 9 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: The Renaissance (UNIVERSAL HISTORY) (Paperback)
Great item and quick delivery.
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The Renaissance (UNIVERSAL HISTORY)
The Renaissance (UNIVERSAL HISTORY) by Paul Johnson (Paperback - 20 Jun. 2002)
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