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The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,105 ratings  ·  42 reviews
None of his successors not even Cesare Borgia rivalled the colossal guilt of Ezzelino" proposes the author."
Paperback, 348 pages
Published July 11th 2008 by (first published 1860)
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How could I express the sheer pleasure I have had in reading this book? It is not easy to find historians or writers of Burckhardt’s calibre. Published in 1860, this icon of a book deserves its place as a model of historiography of the highest quality. Not many have served as a double linchpin. Burckhardt took up Michelet’s term of “Renaissance” and provided an exhaustive and brilliant analysis of what the term embodied in the Italy of the 13th- 16th Centuries. That was the more specific contrib

"Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly."

Even if Harry Lime was right, he was wrong. Burckhardt, the man who invented the modern history of the Renaissance, was S

Often, when writing about the Renaissance there is tendency among experts/writers/historians to focus on the well-plumed bird and ignore the nest. Burckhardt spends nearly 400 pages carefully detailing the Tuscan nest of the Renaissance that embraced, protected, and incubated the great Italian artists of the Rinascimento (Giotto to Michelangelo, etc).

Burckhardt first describes the state in Italy and carefully describes the rise of the despots, the energy of the republics, and the push and the pu
A masterpiece. One has to be sure, of course, to find a copy that includes the photographic plates -- which are essential (the penguin edition includes only the text and so is incomplete). Worth whatever you pay.... If there were six stars available on this board, I would give it ten....
Justin Evans
Well, I guess that's what old history is like. Burckhardt piles up his anecdotes and, true to his word, gives you his own picture of the Italian Renaissance. Don't go looking for a narrative of events, or precise information. It's all allusion and generalities. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I think I would've had a better time if I'd known that at the beginning.
The problem with this book is so obvious that it's almost silly to point it out: Burckhardt's picture of the Renaissance is,
A brilliant piece of writing--- and the source for what so many of us in my generation believed about the history of the Renaissance. The prose here was celebrated in Peter Gay's (classic) "Style in History" for both its cool patrician detachment and deep aesthetic sense, and reading Burckhardt is a pleasure. I have a History PhD, and I've taught History at universities--- and while there are newer visions of the place and time that are more "scientific" and based on findings and techniques unav ...more
Mike Hankins
Burkhardt's famous work on the Renaissance may seem difficult to read by modern sensibilities, but it truly started something very new. There are two main ideas at play here. First, the idea that the Renaissance is the first time that humanity starts to recognize and celebrate individuality. Secondly, Burkhardt is using a methodology very different from historians before him. He's not concerned with narrative of events, with politics or military developments. Instead, he is examining Renaissance ...more
I read it.
Got to know a lot about Dante.
Dante is so important because he broke the mold of writing in Latin. He wrote in Italian, in the common language for the common people.

I did get a kick out of the macaroni poetry. It was written in such a way that the Latin endings sounded like slips of the tongue.

I didn't realize how many authors there were back then. My head was swimming with all those names and titles.

There was a section in there on paid assassins. Makes me wonder if that's where the Ma
Burckhardt's classic study is a great work stylistically; structurally, it's kind of a mess. I thought it would be a rewarding read because of its historiographical prominence and because I didn't know much about the Renaissance. After reading it, I still don't feel like I have a handle on the Renaissance.

I don't think it's fair to comment too much on Burckhardt's methodology by contemporary standards, but it's often unclear what his sources are and how he is using them. His dating of the Renais
Charles Rouse
I read this once at about college age and then again recently for preparation for ministry in the Episcopal Church. It's a classic. I love the material, what we call the Renaissance. I've seen a lot of it, and it's amazing in person, the art and buildings of Florence, much or most of which is still there.
Burchhardt just about invented this genre. He didn't, I think, invent the name, the Renaissance, referring to the Renaissance of Arts and Letters, meaning the rebirth of the arts and literature
Federico Salinas
This is a particularly beautiful edition, printed by Phaidon Press in 1944, translated from the original German in the mid-19th century by Middlemore. It is bound in red cloth and contains an appendix of black-and-white photographs of Renaissance art.

The English text is redolent of the grand 19th century British style (to my taste, but avowedly not to everyone else's), making the reading a little dense and leaving the reader to wonder whether the original suffers or benefits from the same baroqu
Πολυ καλο βιβλιο! Δεν εχει αφησει τιποτα απ'εξω που να αφορα την ιδεολογία της Αναγέννησης στην Ιταλια! Πολύ ενδιαφερον. Υποψην μόνο, οτι δεν ασχολειται με ιστορικα γεγονότα, ασχολείται καθαρά με την ιδεολογια.
Katelis Viglas
I came across this book when I read in Foucault's History of Sexuality about the art of living in Renaissance. Probably the half of the book is related with matters of Subject's developement, and not only the second part which has the specific title. A kind of new discovery of the world and man came about in this era. There are many references to matters of the way the subject was related with himself, the other people, his body, power, education, sexuality, language, beauty, nature, traveling, ...more
Данило Судин
Це, мабуть, єдина книжка, яку я читав 8 років. (Коротко поясню, як мені це вдалося: я її читав тільки протягом літніх відпусток, а тому більшість року просто не мав часу взятися зав неї.)

І тому моя рецензія не буде надто детальною, адже більшість деталей вже встигли забутися. Втім, Якоб Буркгард - "батько" Йогана Гейзінги (і своєрідний попередник Школи "Анналів"), а тому рухається від макро- до мікро-рівня історичної епохи. Спершу розглядає політичну історію і шукає в ній корені (чи радше соціал
It's hard to see this work as a whole, despite Burckhardt's clear desire to create something that is exactly that, just because I took far too long to read it. I'm a quick reader, but the denseness of this (more in terms of facts than in terms of comprehensibility; it's not difficult) makes it move slowly. It improved, for me, as he began to get into things about which I know more, such as literature, and it's created a better picture for me of how artistic outlook evolved during the course of t ...more
Al Maki
It's not a chronicle of the events of the Renaissance. It's a kaleidoscope of different aspects of it - politics, warfare, poetry, art, clothing, festivals, beliefs about a variety of things - with the intention of illustrating where and how the modern European sensibility first manifested itself. I think it succeeds through a cascade of commentary on dozens and dozens of specific topics like the relative degree of respect accorded Scipio Africanus and Julius Caesar or how the introduction of hi ...more
Dan Geddes

See review at The Satirist:

Jacob Burckhardt’s Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy has achieved its now classic status because of the importance of its theses and its readability as a narrative. Burckhardt’s argues that the Italian Renaissance was the birth of both modernity and of the individual as we know it. These are strong claims, which have now become accepted by many historians. Burckhardt fostered the impression that the Middle Ages was a time
Burckhardt seems to hinge most of the Renaissance and therefore the modern world on Dante. I guess I should actually read it. 14th century epic poetry translated into English is even more difficult to read than 19th century history translated into English! There are lots of other things...he links city states to more secular, individualistic thinking and of course the Italian love of text from Roman antiquity (see also The Swerve). He rally bypasses the visual arts altogether but it is rather re ...more
Deborah Borges
Quando comecei a ler este livro, achei que era ma coisa, porém é totalmente diferente do que pensei.
No começo me empolguei com os governos tirânicos da Itália e tudo o mais que o cercava naquela época. Porém, logo comecei a perceber que o autor dá suas opiniões sem tentar ser imparcial e acaba descrevendo a Itália como o melhor lugar da Europa, como se fosse o único lugar onde se tinha uma civilização e todos os demais países europeus fossem formados por pessoas sem cultura e sem pensamento próp
THis book nearly killed me. It was so so so so hard to get through. It was probably written originally on papyrus. ha. It was written so very long ago. There were so many prejudicial and racially charged statements and biases throughout it. I guess these reflected the era in which it was written . (the poor "orientals" took a beating...the author hated them)

On the good side....the reason I chose it in the first place and plodded through it, was due to our magnificent recent trip to Italy. I got
Burkhardt looks at Renaissance Italy in a topical fashion, starting with the various types of states/statelets and ranging through various aspects of the arts, thinking, clothing and other things. His most important theme is that this was the beginning in the West of the idea of the individual.

I was glad to have read other books about the Renaissance before reading this, because there were many names and some details which would have overwhelmed me otherwise. Still, for all the insights he provi
Superficial overview of life in Italy during the Renaissance. Doesn't hold up well several centuries after it was originally written.
Very heavy going - probably to be expected in this pioneering book written in 1860. I found there were too many people described for me to get my head around. He mentions peoples names all the time and you have to look back to identify who the person is.
The book was a present from family because we were travelling to Italy. I couldn't get it finished before the trip so was of limited use.
Arthur Kyriazis
This post is essential reading for everyone
Though there are other, more recent, accounts of the italian renaissance, Burckhardt's book remains the touchstone of how we think about and talk about this remarkable moment in Western Civilization. This is about as Old School as you're going to get, and the writing is in High German Academic mode. i wouldn't call it dull, exactly, but effervescent it sure isn't. if you can get past that, the book provides some wonderful insights into the politics and philosophy that sparked this remarkable per ...more
I read this because of its influence on Nietzsche but ended up enjoying it in its own right quite a bit. In this context, it oddly makes me think that the Renaissance, as much as Hellenism, is a place to go to to show the problem with believing that the history of philosophy (or even of Platonism) is reducible to the received wisdom about the history of "Platonism."
May 11, 2009 Ned rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Patriots
Shelves: current
Splendid! Every edition of this should come with good clear, quality reproductions of a fair hunk of the art it talks about. This one does. Unfortunately, most of the time you have to take a trip to the Library or very often a University to find a good clear and sizable enough edition to get a sense of what the pictures are showing. Then it begins to seep in.
In my opinion, this book is first rank history that is at least on the level of Gibbon. A great introduction to the violent world of the Renaissance and the forceful individualism it enhanced. It's pretty amazing to read something written in 1860 that is more cutting edge - and interesting - than most textbooks published today.
I have just re-read portions of the 1955 edition for the first time in about 20 years. I was curious about a few things after reading a current book on the history of the Roman Catholic Church so I went back to my roots as a history student! The book still reads as charming, informative and enlightening!
This is a difficult reading for someone with an advanced degree in Medieval History much less lay people. The content may be of the highest caliber; but there is so much more detail than in traditional Renaissance studies that most readers are quickly overwhelmed.
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Carl Jacob Christoph Burckhardt was a historian of art and culture, and an influential figure in the historiography of each field. He is known as one of the major progenitors of cultural history, albeit in a form very different from how cultural history is conceived and studied in academia today. Siegfried Giedion described Burckhardt's achievement in the following terms: "The great discoverer of ...more
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