Michael's Reviews > The Story of the Renaissance

The Story of the Renaissance by William Henry  Hudson
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's review
Sep 21, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: audio, non-fiction, 1910s
Read from September 21 to October 01, 2010

I went into this one blind, and was surprised that it was so robustly old-fashioned in its tone and candor. Checking the copyright date cleared things up: 1912. Back when you could still, after a measured acknowledgement that intellectual life didn't end in the Middle Ages, suggest that humanity has experienced some progress since then on most fronts.

Still, the weaknesses of old-school history are apparent in total focus on artistic, literary, and intellectual matters. There's not much about political history here, let alone social history, and -- rather stunningly -- I don't believe there's a single mention of disease, which was rather an important shaper of events in mid-millennium Europe. Hudson is also, to modern sensibilities, rather charmingly prudish, patriotic to the point of jingoism, and casually anti-Catholic. So you get a twofer: a little history of Edwardian thought along with your Story of the Renaissance. It's cool.

The style is genially professorial and easy to follow. We are repeatedly assured that we can't get tripped up on details and specifics, and then offered a list of details and specifics, but for my part that just demonstrated Hudson's likable enthusiasm for the task. Significantly, his Story of the Renaissance still captures much of what we ought to know about that time; it isn't WRONG, but only lacking the benefit of the subsequent century of scholarship. It holds up well, and I think the worst that can be said about it is that it ends very abr

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09/28/2010 page 100
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