This is not only a good overview of the specific case at hand, but serves also as something of an insider view on how constitutional jurisprudence fun...moreThis is not only a good overview of the specific case at hand, but serves also as something of an insider view on how constitutional jurisprudence functions in 21st Century America: the behind the scenes work that brings a viable case to the Supreme Court in such a way that a centrally important issue can be adjudicated. In this case it is especially telling in that, for Lawrence to prevail, previous precedent would need to be overturned, which is never taken lightly by The Nine, no matter where they fall on the left-right spectrum.(less)
While providing quite a balanced and exceedingly well-researched overview of the life of Hutten, this fairly slim volume necessarily leaves out a lot...moreWhile providing quite a balanced and exceedingly well-researched overview of the life of Hutten, this fairly slim volume necessarily leaves out a lot of historical context. While it was deliberately revised from the German original for English-specking audiences under the presumption that late-Medieval German history is not exactly common knowledge in that market, I found that I needed to turn to Wikipedia routinely to fill in what felt like blanks: the identities of the Roman Popes in the era addressed; the political structure of the estates in the Holy Roman Empire; what exactly is meant by the term "humanism" in this context; the philosophical underpinnings of the humanist–scholastic debate; and the like. I probably spent almost as much time digging through other sources as I did reading the book itself. Nevertheless, it is a solid overview of the man himself and a good launching pad for further study, if you're into that sort of thing, and frankly there's not much competition in the market for Hutten studies in English as there is in German.(less)
So far I'm finding this frustratingly sketchy and, despite the author's allegedly academic background, unscholarly. Questionable assertions frequently...moreSo far I'm finding this frustratingly sketchy and, despite the author's allegedly academic background, unscholarly. Questionable assertions frequently are made without any attribution, and very little background is given on the meaning or history of any of the supposed gnostic symbolism, or what the titular "Hermetic Code" is. "Scholars have identified more than fifty principle themes in The Garden of Earthly Delights...." Well, thanks for naming neither the themes nor the scholars; that's very helpful indeed. The brief chapter on Da Vinci is hardly even worthy of Dan Brown, whose readership is more clearly the target audience than any true adept or student of the mysteries.
Some of the speculations are just outright wrong. For example, in the chapter on Rembrandt's Belshazzar's Feast, Frers writes: "the Book of Daniel... must have been the work of many authors, considering the dubious existence of a patriarch with this name." What's dubious about דניאל as a Hebrew name? And even allowing for that, how does this lead to a conclusion about authorship, singular or multiple?
A more minor quibble: the color plate references in the Painting section are wrong more often than right, though usually decipherable, and hey, at least they included many color plates, which are essential in a work of this nature. In a few cases, though, the way the plates are inserted obscures much of the point to including them—often the most interesting detail winds up buried in the binding as a picture spans pages.(less)