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Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Oxford, 205 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812980 7
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Representing the English Renaissance 
edited by Stephen Greenblatt.
California, 372 pp., $42, February 1988, 0 520 06129 2
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... Witchcraft, for example – with the researches of historians of witchcraft and exorcism, such as Carlo Ginzburg, Keith Thomas and the late Perkin Walker, and with the theories of anthropologists concerned with possession in contemporary societies, from Alfred Métraux on Haiti to Bruce Kapferer on Sri Lanka. In a similar way, Greenblatt’s essay on ...


Geoffrey Hawthorn, 3 December 1992

English Questions 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 370 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 375 9
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A Zone of Engagement 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 384 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 377 5
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... Norberto Bobbio, Roberto Unger, W.G. Runciman. Andreas Hillgruber, Max Weber, Ernest Gellner, Carlo Ginzburg, Isaiah Berlin, Fernand Braudel and Francis Fukuyama. More recently (LRB, 24 September and 22 October), he has extended himself to Michael Oakeshott and others of Oakeshott’s generation on ‘the intransigent right’, and to those in Ukania ...

Skipwith and Anktill

David Wootton: Tudor Microhistory, 10 August 2000

Travesties and Transgressions in Tudor and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Oxford, 351 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 19 820781 6
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A House in Gross Disorder: Sex, Law, and the Second Earl of Castlehaven 
by Cynthia Herrup.
Oxford, 216 pp., £18.99, December 1999, 0 19 512518 5
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... scarcely have thought he was copying the techniques of scientists; nor was he looking for clues: Carlo Ginzburg showed in his Clues, Myths and the Historical Method (1989) how the idea of a clue was a 19th-century innovation. Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose (1981) portrays a historical impossibility, a medieval monk with the mental faculties of ...

All Curls and Pearls

Lorraine Daston: Why are we so curious?, 23 June 2005

The Uses of Curiosity in Early Modern France and Germany 
by Neil Kenny.
Oxford, 484 pp., £68, July 2004, 0 19 927136 4
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... by the late 17th century they were on the defensive. Historians, most notably Hans Blumenberg, Carlo Ginzburg, Jean Céard, Krzysztof Pomian and William Eamon, have noted the remarkable rise of curiosity and its transvaluation from vice to virtue. They have argued, with varying emphases, that this episode is key to understanding the modernisation of ...

Once upon a Real Time

Wendy Doniger, 23 March 1995

From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers 
by Marina Warner.
Chatto, 458 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 7011 3530 1
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... as telltale marks of identity (most famously in the story of Cinderella). I would add (following Carlo Ginzburg) that the idea of the identifying foot may also be linked with the earliest morphologies, the footprints of animals followed by prehistoric hunters – a habit enshrined in Aristotle’s, and our, classification of animals as ...

A Niche for a Prophet

Eric Hobsbawm: The Jews of San Nicandro, 3 February 2011

The Jews of San Nicandro 
by John Davis.
Yale, 238 pp., £20, November 2010, 978 0 300 11425 6
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... Italian school of microcosmic history. But records such as those of the Inquisition, which allowed Carlo Ginzburg to produce The Cheese and the Worms, belonged to earlier periods. We have a good deal of information about Manduzio’s activities and, from 1937 on, his thoughts, as recorded in the journal he began to keep in that year, which still exists ...

Are you having fun today?

Lorraine Daston: Serendipidity, 23 September 2004

The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity: A Study in Sociological Semantics and the Sociology of Science 
by Robert Merton and Elinor Barber.
Princeton, 313 pp., £18.95, February 2004, 0 691 11754 3
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... a broken branch, a paw print, a rustle of leaves – that the quarry has passed this way. Carlo Ginzburg has argued that it is this faculty of noting and adding up clues that links the perspicacity of Holmes untangling the secret of the Red-Headed League, Morelli scrutinising a possible art forgery and Freud penetrating the psychoanalytic ...

Unnatural Rebellion

Malcolm Gaskill: ‘Witches’, 2 November 2017

The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 360 pp., £25, August 2017, 978 0 300 22904 2
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... archaeology’, a term that could also describe the work of the Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg. Ginzburg established the idea that the religious genealogy of early modern witches drifted back into an obscure pagan and prehistoric past, and that the practices of visionaries, soothsayers and healers ...

On Sebastiano Timpanaro

Perry Anderson, 10 May 2001

... of the post-Napoleonic period, and ends with a consideration of the line from the liberal patriot Carlo Cattaneo – hero of the rising against Austrian rule in Milan in 1848 – to the comparative linguist Graziadio Ascoli after the Risorgimento. The second develops a critique of Western Marxism for relinquishing the materialist legacy of Engels, and at the ...

Loitering in the Piazza

Stephen Greenblatt, 27 October 1988

Inheriting Power: The Story of an Exorcist 
by Giovanni Levi, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Chicago, 209 pp., £21.50, June 1988, 0 226 47417 8
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... by isolating and reconstructing a single resonant story. The best of these microhistories – Carlo Ginzburg’s The Cheese and the Worms and Natalie Zemon Davis’s The Return of Martin Guerre – succeed in making their stories what Kenneth Burke calls ‘representative anecdotes’, reflections of reality that are inevitably selections of ...

An Invertebrate Left

Perry Anderson, 12 March 2009

... of ministers, and refuse to sign legislation. In 2003 the incumbent was the former central banker Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, an ornament of the centre-left who had headed the final government of the First Republic, served as finance minister under Prodi, and is today a senator for the Democratic Party. Imperturbably, Ciampi signed exceptional legislation not only ...

Stop It and Act

Tim Parks: Pavese’s Road to Suicide, 11 February 2010

This Business of Living: Diaries 1935-50 
by Cesare Pavese, translated by A.E. Murch.
Transaction, 350 pp., £24.50, March 2009, 978 1 4128 1019 7
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... overseen instead by a French professor, after intervention from Pavese’s left-wing friend Leone Ginzburg. Thus began the image of Pavese as a left-wing activist and the comforting illusion that the translation and propagation of American literature might be a threat to the regime. That same year, 1930, Pavese’s mother died, and apart from the period of ...

The Impostor

Peter Burke, 19 April 1984

Le Retour de Martin Guerre 
by Natalie Davis, Jean-Claude Carrière and Daniel Vigne.
Robert Laffont, 269 pp.
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The Return of Martin Guerre 
by Natalie Davis.
Harvard, 162 pp., £12.75, October 1983, 0 674 76690 3
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... But there is no denying that the results so far have sometimes been spectacular, as in the case of Carlo Ginzburg’s The Cheese and the Worms; or Jonathan Spence’s The Death of Woman Wang, which described the adventures of a woman who ran away from her husband, returned to him, and was strangled by him as she slept one night in 1672 in a village in ...

Full of Words

Tim Parks: ‘Arturo’s Island’, 15 August 2019

Arturo’s Island 
by Elsa Morante, translated by Ann Goldstein.
Pushkin, 370 pp., £9.99, May 2019, 978 1 78227 495 7
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... with wistful awe. Morante was writing at the height of Italian neorealism. In the early 1950s Carlo Cassola, Beppe Fenoglio, Vasco Pratolini, Morante’s husband, Alberto Moravia, and her friends Natalia Ginzburg and Pier Paolo Pasolini were all in different ways seeking to describe postwar desolation in ...

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