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He had fun

Anthony Grafton: Athanasius Kircher, 7 November 2013

Egyptian Oedipus: Athanasius Kircher and the Secrets of Antiquity 
by Daniel Stolzenberg.
Chicago, 307 pp., £35, April 2013, 978 0 226 92414 4
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Exploring the Kingdom of Saturn: Kircher’s Latium and Its Legacy 
by Harry Evans.
Michigan, 236 pp., £63.50, July 2012, 978 0 472 11815 1
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... Even in the middle years of the 17th century, when Athanasius Kircher’s career reached its peak, nobody knew exactly what to make of him. Descartes, who described him as ‘more charlatan than scholar’, classed his enormous erudite books among the many that he refused on principle to read. John Evelyn, visiting Rome in 1644, was impressed when ‘with Dutch patience, he showed us his perpetual motions, catoptrics, magnetical experiments, models, and a thousand other crotchets and devices ...

Walkers in the Ruined City

Anthony Grafton: History in Ruins, 6 May 2021

The Ruins Lesson: Meaning and Material in Western Culture 
by Susan Stewart.
Chicago, 378 pp., £23, June, 978 0 226 79220 0
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The Eternal City: A History of Rome in Maps 
by Jessica Maier.
Chicago, 199 pp., £25, October 2020, 978 0 226 59145 2
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... Piranesi’s ‘Plan of Rome’ (1756) The​ life of a Renaissance antiquarian was far from simple. In April 1436, when Cyriac of Ancona arrived in Athens, he was thrilled by his first sight of the Parthenon, the ‘marvellous marble temple of the goddess Pallas, the divine work of Phidias’. He counted its columns, admired its friezes and commented on the artistry with which Phidias had represented the battle of the Centaurs and Lapiths ...

Enemy of the Enemies of Truth

Frank Kermode: The history of the footnote, 19 March 1998

The Footnote: A Curious History 
by Anthony Grafton.
Faber, 241 pp., £12.99, December 1997, 0 571 17668 2
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... work to do: ‘Grant I have mastered learning’s crabbed text,/Still there’s the comment.’ Anthony Grafton’s book is a commentary on the comment, some of it made, as Browning puts it, ‘shortly after the revival of learning in Europe’, though its scope is much wider than that. Copious commentary wasn’t a humanist invention: it had adorned ...

America first

Felipe Fernández-Armesto, 7 January 1993

European Encounters with the New World: From Renaissance to Romanticism 
by Anthony Pagden.
Yale, 212 pp., £18.95, January 1993, 0 300 05285 5
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New Worlds, Ancient Texts: The Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery 
by Anthony Grafton, April Shelford and Nancy Siraisi.
Harvard, 282 pp., £23.95, October 1992, 0 674 61875 0
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The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus 
by Valerie Flint.
Princeton, 233 pp., £16, August 1992, 0 691 05681 1
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Land without Evil: Utopian Journeys across the South American Watershed 
by Richard Gott.
Verso, 299 pp., £18.95, January 1993, 0 86091 398 8
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... is like Hamlet: someone is always seeing it for the first time, but rarely with fresh perceptions. Anthony Pagden’s European Encounters with the New World recounts episodes in a long history in which ‘the newness of America was recognised, confronted and explained’. Anthony Grafton’s New Worlds, Ancient Texts is ...

Using the Heavens

John Bossy: Renaissance Astrology, 1 June 2000

Cardano’s Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer 
by Anthony Grafton.
Harvard, 284 pp., £21.95, February 2000, 0 674 09555 3
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... art. To find astrology funny must be an effect of ignorance, since now we have the authority of Anthony Grafton to tell us that it is serious. Grafton has recently become known in England as the author of an elegant history of the footnote, but this is the tip of an iceberg of learning, though a good example of his ...

Ten Small Raisins

Erin Maglaque: Sweat or Inky Fingers?, 1 July 2021

Inky Fingers: The Making of Books in Early Modern Europe 
by Anthony Grafton.
Harvard, 304 pp., £31.95, March 2020, 978 0 674 23717 9
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... completely.In nine portraits – of antiquarians, palaeographers, philosophers and polymaths – Anthony Grafton describes the texture of intellectual life from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Grafton’s work has charted the development of scholarship, books, the classical tradition and of history writing ...

The First Universal Man

Jules Lubbock: The Invention of Painting, 31 October 2002

Leon Battista Alberti: Master Builder of the Italian Renaissance 
by Anthony Grafton.
Allen Lane, 432 pp., £9.99, January 2002, 0 14 029169 5
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The Discovery of Pictorial Composition: Theories of Visual Order in Painting, 1400-1800 
by Thomas Puttfarken.
Yale, 332 pp., £30, June 2000, 0 300 08156 1
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... art is said to be a footnote to Alberti, just as all philosophy is said to be a footnote to Plato. Anthony Grafton admits that he comes to Alberti not as an art historian but as an outsider. On the other hand, outsiders can revitalise a subject withered by odium academicum, and Grafton has achieved this in the first ...


Peter Burke, 15 October 1987

Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy 
edited by F.W. Kent and Patricia Simons.
Oxford/Humanities Research Centre, 331 pp., £35, June 1987, 0 19 821978 4
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Pienza: The Creation of a Renaissance City 
by Charles Mack.
Cornell, 250 pp., $43.95, June 1987, 9780801416996
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Piety and Patronage in Renaissance Venice: Bellini, Titian and the Franciscans 
by Rona Goffen.
Yale, 285 pp., £30, July 1986, 0 300 03455 5
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Venetian Humanism in an Age of Patrician Dominance 
by Margaret King.
Princeton, 524 pp., £42.90, April 1986, 0 691 05465 7
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The Venetian Patriciate: Reality versus Myth 
by Donald Queller.
Illinois, 386 pp., $29.95, September 1986, 0 252 01144 9
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Tradesman and Traders: The World of the Guilds in Venice and Europe, c.1250-c.1650 
by Richard MacKenney.
Croom Helm, 289 pp., £35, January 1987, 0 7099 1763 5
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Florence, Rome and the Origins of the Renaissance 
by George Holmes.
Oxford, 273 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 19 822576 8
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From Humanism to the Humanities: Education and the Liberal Arts in 15th and 6th-Century Europe 
by Anthony Grafton and Lisa Jardine.
Duckworth, 224 pp., £29.95, January 1987, 0 7156 2100 9
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Renaissance and Revolt: Essays in the Intellectual and Social History of Early Modern France 
by J.H.M. Salmon.
Cambridge, 306 pp., £30, June 1987, 0 521 32769 5
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... Rome’. The lively new study of Renaissance Humanism by two scholars separated by the Atlantic, Anthony Grafton and Lisa Jardine, has much in common with the other books discussed here, despite an attempt by the authors to distance themselves from what they call ‘the new social history’ and to concern themselves ‘not with context but with ...

Well done, you forgers

John Sutherland, 7 January 1993

The Two Forgers: A Biography of Harry Buxton Forman and Thomas James Wise 
by John Collins.
Scolar, 317 pp., £27.50, May 1992, 0 85967 754 0
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Forgers and Critics: Creativity and Duplicity in Western Scholarship 
by Anthony Grafton.
Princeton, 157 pp., £10.75, May 1990, 0 691 05544 0
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... be prosecuted by the DPP. It would be sensible to replace the term ‘literary forgery’ with Anthony Grafton’s neologism, ‘pseudepigrapha’. This blanket description would cover everything from Chatterton’s fake poems to George MacDonald Fraser’s ‘Flashman’ spoofs without any automatic presumptions of wrong-doing. Carter and Pollard’s ...

Homage to Scaliger

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 17 May 1984

Joseph Scaliger: A Study in the History of Classical Scholarship 
by Anthony Grafton.
Oxford, 359 pp., £27.50, June 1983, 9780198148500
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... of his own. Bernays was a far better scholar than Pattison, but even his work has limitations, as Grafton has observed with much acuteness. Rightly seeing Scaliger as a precursor of the monumental scholarship of his own time – Scaliger’s affinity with Mommsen has often been remarked – Bernays represented him as though he were a scholar of the 19th ...

Things Keep Happening

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Histories of Histories, 20 November 2008

A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the 20th Century 
by John Burrow.
Allen Lane, 553 pp., £25, December 2007, 978 0 7139 9337 0
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What Was History? The Art of History in Early Modern Europe 
by Anthony Grafton.
Cambridge, 319 pp., £13.99, March 2007, 978 0 521 69714 9
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The Theft of History 
by Jack Goody.
Cambridge, 342 pp., £14.99, January 2007, 978 0 521 69105 5
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Thucydides and the Philosophical Origins of History 
by Darien Shanske.
Cambridge, 268 pp., £54, January 2007, 978 0 521 86411 4
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... simple-minded or single-minded. Narrative can be capacious as well as directional. Burrow and Anthony Grafton are as capacious as can be. Their question is not so much ‘how did it come to this?’ – in Grafton’s case, to a more critical historicism in the 17th and 18th centuries; in Burrow’s, to ...

In one era and out the other

John North, 7 April 1994

Joseph Scaliger: A Study in the History of Classical Scholarship. Vol II: Historical Chronology 
by Anthony Grafton.
Oxford, 766 pp., £65, December 1993, 0 19 920601 5
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... come to light, and we shall have another insight into relations between the two. The first part of Anthony Grafton’s intellectual biography (‘Textual Criticism and Exegesis’) appeared in 1983. Together the two volumes provide little of a personal nature, but a remarkably rich insight into a vigorous period of scholarship for which the modern ...


Barbara Graziosi: Sebald is my husband, 20 December 2012

... and how they mirror each other. Before that class, I had a coffee with Constanze Güthenke and Anthony Grafton: we were meant to plan our joint lesson, but the conversation quickly derailed when I again mentioned our children. Tony remembered the languages of his childhood, especially Yiddish, the forgotten language. That night I laughed with Johannes ...

Do hens have hands?

Adam Smyth: Editorial Interference, 5 July 2012

The Culture of Correction in Renaissance Europe (Panizzi Lectures) 
by Anthony Grafton.
British Library, 144 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 7123 5845 3
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... on printers’ archives in Leiden, Antwerp and Rome. The volume confirms, if it needed confirming, Anthony Grafton’s unrivalled capacity, within Renaissance studies, to combine high learning (‘the correctors studied here were hardly typical,’ he notes, with some pride) with the ability to make potentially arid archival sources ...

What do we mean by it?

J.G.A. Pocock, 7 January 1993

The Cambridge History of Political Thought: 1450-1700 
edited by J.H. Burns and Mark Goldie.
Cambridge, 798 pp., £60, August 1991, 0 521 24716 0
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... 21, 344 pages out of 798 – the authors review major themes: ‘humanism and political theory’ (Anthony Grafton), ‘Italian political thought, 1450-1530’ (Nicolai Rubinstein, with a strong detour through the local and peculiar intensities of Florence and Venice), ‘law’ (Donald Kelley, being very rightly a disquisition on Roman law and the ...

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