The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller Paperback – 1 Mar 1992
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A wonderful book... Ginzburg is a historian with an insatiable curiosity, who pursues even the faintest of clues with all the zest of a born detective until every fragment of evidence can be fitted into place. The work of reconstruction is brilliant, the writing superbly readable, and by the end of the book the reader who has followed Dr. Ginzburg in his wanderings through the labyrinthine mind of the miller of the Friuli will take leave of this strange and quirky old man with genuine regret.(J. H. Elliott New York Review of Books)
Ginzburg has excavated a marvelous and melancholy tale. Lay readers know that historical work of this order requires formidable skills and dogged research... Ginzburg's discovery of Menocchio is a dazzling entry into the historical world of popular culture.(Lauro Martines Washington Post)
About the Author
Carlo Ginzburg is a professor at Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Italy, and the recipient of the prestigious International Balzan Prize. He is author of The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century and Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method, also published by Johns Hopkins.
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Top Customer Reviews
Here Ginzburg goes through the records of two Inquisition trials of the late sixteenth-century. The individual on trial is Domenico Scandella, a miller from a small village in Venetia. Scandella was in many ways special. He was literate, to begin with. And he had very set and unorthodox notions about the cosmos, creation, the Trinity, the soul, and many other things. He preached to fellow villagers and strangers alike, and on occasion defied the clergy. His story is fascinating in its own right: Ginzburg takes us through the books the miller read, what he appears to have taken away from them and how, his social views, what can be known of his private fate. And it also resonates with broader contemporary change: the Reformation and counter-Reformation, the growth and repression of heretical movements in Italy, social and political upheaval in the region. (The book, abundantly footnoted, is nevertheless accessible to the non-academic reader and is moreover an excellent yarn). Yet Ginzburg makes even more ambitious claims.Read more ›
I came across a reference to this book quite by chance, and was intrigued.
Domenico Scandella was born in 1532, and died, burned at the stake by the Inquisition in 1599. He was an obscure miller from an obscure Italian village, and his beliefs are recorded for us today purely because he was tried by the Inquisition twice. Their precise and detailed records allow us to get a glimpse into a life that was formed by the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, and framed by the advent of printing, giving Menocchio (as he was called) the ability and opportunity to take his own thoughts and blend them into what the Church deigned to call a heresy. The Catholic Church Counter-Reformation led to harsh penalties for those who thought outside the orthodox, and the Reformation, together with printing, had enabled those who wondered to think outside what the Church had earlier taught them. A dangerous mixture, if the thinkers read too much, spoke too much and caught the attention of the Inquisitors.
A sad story, one cannot help but wonder if Menocchio had learned his lesson after his first incarceration and release and had kept his ideas to himself, he would not have ended up again in trouble, this time fatally. All the more poignant for his apparent redemption and then failure, this is an eye-opening story, horrifying because of its truth, sad because of its loss. In a world where the Church could condemn men such as Giordano Bruno to horrible death, what hope did a man like Menocchio have? This book left me with a real feeling of deep sadness, for what man can do to man.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Prompt delivery and a very useful book. This book serves the purpose very well. I would recommend the book as well as the supplierPublished on 9 Oct. 2013 by Amazon Shopper
I found this book very interesting in parts, but quite repetitive, I was surprised as it had very good reviewsPublished on 29 Jan. 2013 by J
Some books seem very expensive for what they are: "The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller" is one of those books. Excellent read and all that. Read morePublished on 19 Dec. 2012 by R. Toland
In the cheese and the worms, ginzburg gives terrific insight into how ones social status defines their belief system. Read morePublished on 11 July 1999
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