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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 ...

Frets and Knots

Anthony Grafton

4 November 1993
A History of Cambridge University Press. Vol. I: Printing and the Book Trade in Cambridge, 1534-1698 
by David McKitterick.
Cambridge, 500 pp., £65, October 1992, 0 521 30801 1
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... editors described by McKitterick rivals the severity shown at Oxford by John Fell, who rewrote Anthony Wood’s history of Oxford, studding it with insults directed at Thomas Hobbes.) Like us, they received proofs disfigured by monstrous errors, not all of which they succeeded in removing from the final books. And like us, they often had the chance to ...

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 ...

Diary

Anthony Grafton: Warburg

1 April 1999
... We have been in Hamburg for four months now, living above the shop – in the attic of the Warburg-Haus, where I am the visiting professor for Wintersemester 1998-99. This is the original home of what is now the Warburg Institute in London, the interdisciplinary centre for research in the history of the classical tradition created early this century by the brilliant, haunted cultural historian Aby Warburg ...

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 ...

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 ...

What if it breaks?

Anthony Grafton: Renovating Rome

25 November 2019
Engineering the Eternal City: Infrastructure, Topography and the Culture of Knowledge in Late 16th-Century Rome 
by Pamela Long.
Chicago, 369 pp., £34, November 2018, 978 0 226 59128 5
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... efforts to suppress the city’s courtesans had failed completely. The playwright and pamphleteer Anthony Munday, who visited Rome in 1579, dismissed the relics as ‘rotten bones, which they make the people credite to be the bones of Saintes’. Even the invitation to watch a Jesuit flagellate himself, and then to imitate him, left Munday unexcited. When the ...

Born to Network

Anthony Grafton

22 August 1996
The Fortunes of ‘The Courtier’: The European Reception of Castiglione’s ‘Cortegiano’ 
by Peter Burke.
Polity, 209 pp., £39.50, October 1995, 0 7456 1150 8
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... Anyone who teaches the High Renaissance in an American university knows how distant it has become. On first contemplating the nudes that fascinated tourists and connoisseurs for centuries, students shrug. Machiavelli and Guicciardini prove equally unexciting to young men and women who were born in the shadow of Watergate and are bored every night by the eleven o’clock news of Whitewater ...

From Norwich to Naples

Anthony Grafton

28 April 1994
The Civilisation of Europe in the Renaissance 
by John Hale.
HarperCollins, 648 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 00 215339 4
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... On the sprawling, minutely detailed historical paintings of the contemporary German artist Werner Tübke, preachers and prostitutes, humanists and soldiers, animated zodiacal signs and Popes tortured by devils tumble, gallop and fly past the onlooker. The flamboyantly dressed soldiers, needle-sharp lances, Hills of Golgotha and Towers of Babel that fill his works are carefully reproduced from dozens of well-known Renaissance paintings ...

Time Lords

Anthony Grafton: In the Catacombs

30 July 2014
Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs 
by Paul Koudounaris.
Thames and Hudson, 189 pp., £18.95, September 2013, 978 0 500 25195 9
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... On​ 31 May 1578, vineyard workers on the Via Salaria in Rome found a tunnel which led them to an early Christian burial site. They had opened the catacombs: the vast network of passages cut through the volcanic tuff outside Rome in which thousands of Christians, as well as Jews and pagans, were buried. The vineyard workers were not the first to spelunk in these artificial caves ...

Those Limbs We Admire

Anthony Grafton: Himmler’s Tacitus

14 July 2011
A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’ ‘Germania’ from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich 
by Christopher Krebs.
Norton, 303 pp., £18.99, June 2011, 978 0 393 06265 6
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... Giambattista Vico knew that history began with the giants: the primitive men and women who lived after the universal Flood, and invented myth and poetry. More important, he knew why they had become so immense. The Jews, God’s holy people, had kept themselves cleanly, in accordance with divine commands, and had achieved only ordinary stature. But non-Jewish babies had played with their own urine and faeces ...

Invented Antiquities

Anthony Grafton

26 July 2017
Baroque Antiquity: Archaeological Imagination in Early Modern Europe 
by Victor Plahte Tschudi.
Cambridge, 320 pp., £64.99, September 2016, 978 1 107 14986 1
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... In​ 1661 Athanasius Kircher SJ made an archaeological discovery. He had gone to Tivoli, a town of villas and baths east of Rome, to restore his health and gather material for a book on the topography and history of the Lazio region. He was nearly sixty. Walking in the hills with a friend, he found a ruined church on a mountain. As he explored the ruin, he came upon a marble tablet with the inscription: ‘This is the holy place where St Eustachius was converted to Christianity ...

Patrons

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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...  ...
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 ...

Botticelli and the Built-in Bed

Anthony Grafton: The Italian Renaissance

2 April 1998
Behind the Picture: Art and Evidence in Italian Renaissance 
by Martin Kemp.
Yale, 304 pp., £25, November 1997, 0 300 07195 7
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... The 17th-century antiquary John Selden spent his life deciphering Greek inscriptions and interpreting Near Eastern myths. No scholar of his time had more experience with the historical study of material remains; no one knew better how easily a modern intellectual can read too much into an ancient object. As he remarked one day, ‘It was an excellent question of my lady Cotton, when Sir Robert Cotton was magnifying of a shoe, which was Mose’s or Noah’s, and wondering at the strange shape and fashion of it: But Mr Cotton, says she, are you sure it is a shoe?’ The 20th-century art historian Martin Kemp has spent his life reconstructing the techniques with which Italian Renaissance artists analysed and represented the natural world: the science of art, as he once called it ...

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