Thursday, May 17, 2018
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane may be the most obvious choice to read while covering the Civil War, but it's a good one to focus on personal experiences within the overall arc of the war. I had fun watching John Huston's 1951 movie version with them while they also learned about Audie Murphy. We complemented that with some of Ambrose Bierce's war stories, as well as parts of Ron Maxwell's Civil War movies (including Copperhead) and Ang Lee's Ride with the Devil.
I re-read John Williams' Butcher's Crossing with the boys, finding a second read of the book extremely enjoyable. Yeah, it has its weak spots, but it was a lot of fun to see them get a feel for what was involved to be on a buffalo hunt...not to mention providing a great example of the laws of supply and demand. The buffalo hunt scene from Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves was thrown in, too, so they'd get a different appreciation for such an event. For a further taste of the Western experience, we read some of Mark Twain's and Bret Harte's short stories.
We read plenty of short stories written or set in the first half of the 20th century from William Faulkner, Shirley Jackson, and Eudora Welty. Yeah, my southern roots show through.
When covering World War II, we read Elie Wiesel's Night, and I felt the need to apologize to them for assigning it (while at the same time stressing the need for them to understand what happened). For a different approach to reading about World War II, check out this link to the first part of a three-part story (from a more detailed book) about the first (accidental) circumnavigation of the globe by a plane.
Currently, I'm picking short books for us to read now and through the summer that tie in with what we've covered with history. Mikhail Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog probably isn't standard fare for 12 & 14 year-olds, but they're picking up on Bulgakov's barbs quite well.
I guess I should add a disclaimer that I don't recommend this reading program for any grade or age. But as I've said, we're having a lot of fun.
Wednesday, May 09, 2018
I'm happy to report my wife's book has been translated in Polish! Which is funny since she gives me grief about the books I read from Central European authors. I've proposed a book tour of Poland, but I doubt our budget can handle it at the moment. You can dream, right?
Since I'm talking about her book, I'll include a picture of a copy in English. Available from discerning bookstores everywhere.
Thursday, April 26, 2018
The sample contains the beginning of the introductory essay by Nicholas Birns, "Startling Dryness: Szentkuthy's Black Renaissance." An earlier version of Birns' essay can be found in the July 2013 special issue of Contra Mundum's journal Hyperion. The journal also contains more of the second section on Brunulleschi than the sample does.
Note: I initially assumed Birns' essay in the book was the same as the earlier online version. Contra Mundum kindly let me know the essay has been updated and revised and I have corrected my comment. Thanks for the correction!
A few excerpts from back cover of the book (the last page of the sample), parts of which were also used on the cover for Marginalia on Casanova:
Black Renaissance, the second volume of the St. Orpheus Breviary, is the continuation of Miklós Szentkuthy's synthesis of 2,000 of European culture. St. Orpheus is Szentkuthy's Virgil, an omniscient poet who guides us not through hell, but through all of recorded history, myth, religion, and literature, albeit reimagines as St. Orpheus metamorphosizes himself into kings, popes, saints, tyrants, and artists. ... "Orpheus wandering in the infernal regions," says Szentkuthy, "is the perennial symbol of the mind lost amid the enigmas of reality. The aim of the work is, on the one hand, to represent the reality of history with the utmost possible precision, and on the other, to show, through the mutations of the European spirit, all the uncertainties of contemplative man, the transiency of emotions and the sterility of philosophical systems."There's more on the back cover of the three characters dominating the book, and the introductory essay goes into detail about why St. Dunstan was chosen as the opening/guiding saint chosen for Black Renaissance. I'll close with some comments from Szentkuthy’s prospectus for the first volume, which provides a guide to the series:
The name “Orpheus” expresses the underlying conceptual tone: Orpheus wandering in the underworld is an eternal symbol of the brain straying among the dark secrets of reality. The aim of the work is, firstly, to portray the reality of nature and history with ever more extreme precision, and secondly, to display through variations in the history of the European mind an observer’s every uncertainty, the fickleness of emotions, the tragic sterility of thoughts & philosophical systems. The reason for placing the epithet “Saint” before “Orpheus” is because the work seeks to portray both European history and the vegetative world of nature from an essentially religious, supernatural viewpoint. Although both the lives of the saints, as well as the other figures, famous books, and cultural manifestations of history are, in point of fact, nothing more than different features of a lyrical self-portrait, the various roles and masks of the author as it were, the work is in essence “religious,” because form love to politics the emphasis throughout is on the battle of the body-politic of God and the body-politic of the world.
Tuesday, April 03, 2018
comments on how translators such as George Chapman (1615), Alexander Pope (1725), T.E. Lawrence (1932), Robert Fitzgerald (1961), Richmond Lattimore (1965), Robert Fagles (1996), Stanley Lombardo (2000), and Stephen Mitchell (2013) have interpreted different words, phrases, and concepts from the original Greek into English.
The quote is from the page at her site that gathers the various tweets on each passage and her comments. If you have any interest in The Odyssey, these threads are essential reading. As Dan Chiasson put it in his article at The New Yorker, Wilson is "The Classics Scholar Redefining What Twitter Can Do."
There are many articles mentioned at Wilson's home page, but I want to link to a few I found helpful.
- Ben Shields' article at Book forum, Minds of the Immortals: Emily Wilson on translating "The Odyssey," is a great overview of Wilson and the book.
- Amy Brady's article How Emily Wilson Translated ‘The Odyssey’ in the Chicago Review of Books includes an interview of Wilson, including a section on why she felt another translation was needed.
- Gregory Hays book review at The New York Times
- BBC Radio3 had a program titled Landmark: The Odyssey, where Wilson joins Amit Chaudhuri, Karen McCarthy Woolf, and Daniel Mendelsohn in discussing the poem.
- Wilson's department has listed online recognitions of her translation
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
I owe a debt of gratitude to Dangerous Minds for their post Minutemen Unplugged: Punk Legends' Rollicking Acoustic Jam on Cable Access TV, 1985. Their post covers the important points of the short performance, although when I saw them in Dallas earlier that year (1985) their set only lasted a little over an hour...and still had at least 30 songs.
If you're into punk nostalgia, watch the show at Dangerous Minds or from the YouTube embed below this post. A great stroll down amnesia lane.
Monday, February 19, 2018
I'll be back after a couple of days, after recovering from exploring Yosemite with my family and then going back to pick up my boys once their three-day class there has finished. Meanwhile, I want to express my gratitude for everyone who has let me know how much those posts have assisted their reading and understanding of Thucydides.
I leave you with how the sky above Half Dome looked yesterday...
Friday, February 16, 2018
The other day I was changing channels on Sirius XM and landed on BYU Radio, which I had no idea even existed. I was getting ready to change the channel when I realized the conversation was on Moby Dick, and I ended up listening to the remainder of the show. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and when I got home I found a list of shows and listened to another episode. The description of the program on their website is
BYUradio's "This'll Take a While" brings you engaging and often digressive conversations about film, books, geography, culture, art, hockey, and pretty much everything else. Join Professor Dean Duncan of the BYU Film Department for expansive and captivating conversation.Judging by what I heard, I'll second both the 'engaging' and 'digressive' parts of the conversations. I'll list some of the episodes that pertain to literature, at least generally (through early February 2018) with their description in case others are interested in listening to them. There are several ways to listen and/or download episodes, but I'll limit my links to the show's website. It looks like the show recycles through older episodes in between the newer ones, so check their schedule and listen in if you're a satellite radio subscriber. And if you find other shows as engaging as this one, please let me know!
BYU Radio is currently channel 143 on Sirius XM. "This'll Take A While" comes on at 1pm Pacific time.
Exploring the Nature of Evil, in Literature (original air date Feb 5, 2018)
The BYU English department's Dennis Cutchins joins Dean to discuss the benefits of reading challenging, difficult material. They also consider those occasions when a reader might just decide to get himself out of there!
Moby Dick (Jan 22, 2018)
BYU English professor Stephen Tuttle joins Dean to enthuse at considerable and joyful length about Herman Melville's inexhaustibly great 1851 novel.
Two Anxious American Authors (Jan 8, 2018)
Carl Sederholm is a professor and administrator at BYU's department of comparative literature. He is also a connoisseur of the weird, which is why we have invited him to illuminate the wild and continuingly resonant work of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.
Stephen King, mostly (Nov 27, 2017)
The University of Vermont's Tony Magistrale and BYU's own Carl Sederholm visit the show to assess, analyze and celebrate this undeniable American literary and cultural phenomenon. Have you ever wondered where to start reading this guy, or if you want to start at all? We've got you covered!
On Swedish Literature, Mostly (Feb 27, 2017)
BYU Comp. Lit's Chip Oscarson discusses some of the chronologies, key motifs and powerful practitioners that have helped overachieving Sweden so repeatedly catch the world's attention and imagination. And as usual, Denmark and Norway keep trying to butt in.
Are Myths True? (Aug 8, 2016)
BYU classicist Seth Jeppesen visits Dean to explore the deep roots and continued relevance of Greek and Roman mythology.
A Short History of Comic Strips, Comic Books, Graphic Novels (Jul 11, 2016)
American Studies scholar Dr Kerry Soper joins the program to draw out some of the surprising and productive family resemblances that exist between these popular and so-very-present art forms.
Classical Foundations (May 30, 2016)
Dean welcomes BYU classicist Roger MacFarlane for a conversation about how present in and important to contemporary life those old Greeks and Romans really are.
Walter Scott and the Evolution of the Novel (May 29, 2016)
Dean welcomes literary scholar Paul Westover to discuss the numerous innovations and vast influence of this great and too often underappreciated Scottish man of letters.
Your Autobiography (Apr 25, 2016)
BYU English department chair Phil Snyder joins Dean to open up some of the whys and ways of examining your own life, and writing your own history.
Don Quixote (Apr 11, 2016)
Spanish scholar Dale Pratt joins Dean for a celebration of Miguel de Cervantes' incalculably important, inexhaustibly enjoyable literary milestone.
Commedia dell'Arte (Aug 9, 2015)
Commedia dell'arte is a type of Italian theater that revolutionized the stage. Dean's conversation today starts with Janine's own theater history in Utah, taking courses in Italian and history at BYU, and her heavy involvement in Dramaturgy as well. Anyone interested in stage productions today can learn more about a branch of theatrical history during this episode.
Brush up Your Shakespeare (Feb 24, 2015)
Elizabethan scholar Rick Duerden joins Dean to discuss some of the surface challenges and endless benefits of studying the world's greatest writer.
The American Short Story, Pt. 2 (Feb 6, 2015)
Dennis Cutchins returns to talk about ten short stories that will change your life. Inhospitably, Dean waxes skeptical about the impulse to make lists.
The American Short Story, Pt. 1 (Jan 28, 2015)
Dean and BYU English’s Dennis Cutchins use Bill Murray’s "The Man Who Knew Too Little" as an entrée into their discussion about American short fiction. Listener beware!
Translated (Feb 27, 2014)
Daryl Hague, a translation professor in BYU’s Department of Spanish and Portugeuse, talks about the letter and the spirit of language and its translation.
Chris Crowe II (Oct 1, 2014)
Chris returns to our program to discuss the need for tough topics and tough talk in teen literature. He and Dean also get grumpy about all those lucrative fantasy franchises for young readers.
Reading (Jan 23, 2014)
Bruce and Margaret Young get beyond books in a discussion about the innumerable texts that moderns need to decode, and the expansion that attends their successfully doing so.
Teens, Reading (Dec 23, 2013)
We’ve got a glut here! Navigational tips from Chris Crowe, a distinguished scholar and writer in the field of adolescent literature.
Writing Books is Hard, Pt. 2 (Nov 20, 2013)
One would think the work would be done upon completion of writing a book. In reality, there's an entirely new battle to fight after you finish. Veteran author Ignacio Garcia discusses the details with Dean.
Writing Books is Hard, Pt. 1 (Nov 13, 2013)
Do you think reading academic books is a long and tedious task? You should try writing one! Fellow-scholars Daryl Lee and Megan Sanborn Jones join Dean to talk about the travails of academic authorship.
Learning to Read (Jul 6, 2012)
Dean talks with Bruce and Margaret Young about reading, how we learn it, how we may have to re-learn it, and some of what we get out of the whole arrangement.
Why I Read Long Books (Jun 1, 2012)
Some people won’t read a book that exceeds a certain number of pages, but BYU Humanities professor Joe Parry is not one of those people. Join Joe as he talks with Dean about the reason he ventures into books that some people would only use to keep their boat trailer from rolling.
Harry Potter (Jul 12, 2011)
Dean delivers a radio essay about JK Rowling’s beloved franchise. He discusses narrative trajectory, filmic adaptation, and the benevolent place that popular culture so often plays in our private lives.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Pegasus Books, 2017
I have to admit I've never really connected with Zola's books. I find things I appreciate and like in his writing, but its more in fits and starts than for a sustained reading. What interested me in this book was Jean Barois by Roger Martin du Gard, which included a cameo by Zola during one of the trials in the Dreyfus affair, and my interest in following up on what happened after Zola's libel trial.
A little background if you aren't familiar with Zola's famous 'J'Accuse' letter printed in the Parisian daily L’Aurore on January 13, 1898:
French Captain Alfred Dreyfus had been accused of passing French military secrets to the German embassy. Based on documents believed to be forged, Dreyfus was convicted of treason. The case received heightened public scrutiny as Zola and others were convinced the French army was trying to cover for the real guilty party(s) and also because of antisemitism (Drefus was Jewish). Zola's letter was addressed to the French president, laying out his beliefs that deceit, forgery, incompetence, antisemitism, villainy, and "the defeat of justice and plain truth" in the case resulted in a guilty verdict. Zola highlights that his letter exposed himself to a libel charge, hoping that such a trial would allow new evidence in the Dreyfus case to exonerate not just himself but Dreyfus, too. During Zola's trial, Dreyfus' case was not reviewed and the author was found guilty of libel. About to be fined and sentenced to a year in prison, Zola fled to England.
Rosen's book follows the author's flight across the channel and his time in England (February 1898 to summer 1899), when he was able to return to France after Dreyfus' verdict was overturned and Zola's follow-up trial was postponed. It's a lively story at first, as Zola arrives in London without any luggage not able to speak English, having to pantomime any request. Just four years earlier he had been the focus of adulatory receptions in London's literary circles, but now he was a fugitive intent on hiding his identity. Eventually he settles in a Norwood hotel suite for most of his stay in England.
Making matters even more complicated was Zola's thorny personal life. His wife Alexandrine and his mistress Jeanne Rozerot (and her two children with Zola) came to visit the author in England at different times, reflecting a similar arrangement the trio had arrived at in France so Zola could share time with both women. While in England, Zola maintained his writing habits and was able to begin a new series of novels (Les Quatre Évangile), as well as other short works.
Rosen reconstructs what happened through Zola's fastidious letter writing to Alexandrine and Jeanne, the memoirs of his daughter Denise, and a book written by Zola's English translator and publisher Ernest Vizetelly. The account can become monotonous at times, resulting from Zola's tendency for a structured, repetitive routine. Other times, though, his fugitive life provides something out of a spy thriller (although not nearly at the same level). His flight to England generated many newspaper articles in Paris as the press published articles claiming he was in Switzerland or Norway before finally confirming he was only across the channel. His political maneuvering earned him reticent friends in socialist circles, but they were instrumental in Dreyfus' eventual pardon Dreyfus. Rosen sums up the contradictions Zola had to deal with upon his return to France, in that
The upper echelons of the French military never forgave Zola for his role in publishing their conspiracies regarding the Dreyfus case. Zola's stay in England proved to be a great strain, something he never seemed to fully recover from. The antisemitism he fought against ended up making him a target of the same hatred and prejudice. Three years after returning to France, Zola and his wife died from carbon monoxide poisoning related to a stuck chimney flue, with rumors of murder never confirmed.
throughout the period of the Dreyfus case, his exile and the last months of his life was that the France he wanted (republican, humanist, secular, democratic and evolving toward socialism) was not the France he had written about in 'J'Accuse', faced in his own trials, or fulminated against in his most miserable moments in exile. So when, in his literary mind, he placed France at the head of a movement to humanise the world, this was a France that he knew didn't exist yet. What's more, by identifying imperialism as an evil that other powers were guilty of, he had either to efface the imperialism of France itself or claim that whatever France did, could do or should do outside of its own borders was as a humane, civilising force. (page 231, hardback)
Rosen has produced a mostly lively account, where the severe turbulence of this period of Zola's life clashes with his desire for spending time with his family. *ahem* Families. At times the recounting of the author's routine and his concerns became repetitive (because Zola repeated them often) , but overall it's an solid documentation of the author's place and standing in the Dreyfus case while examining Zola's life in general and this period in particular.
Also included in the book is a postscript that highlights the BBC Radio 3 program "Zola in Norwood", covering parts of this story in an interview with Madame Martine Le Blond-Zola, Émile's great-granddaughter. Also included is "Angeline," a short story by Zola, inspired in part by some of the English countryside the author visited.
Thursday, February 08, 2018
Primo Levi The Periodic Table, posted almost ten years ago.
Carole Angier provides not just a nice overview of the book, but also includes the chapter “Cerium” with detailed commentary, at Aeon.
Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn
I didn't realize it, but Thomas Penn narrated an hour-long 2013 documentary titled Henry VII: The Winter King. It is currently available for Amazon Prime viewers, with several versions of it on YouTube. It is a good overview and introduction of Henry VII, but if this documentary piques your interest you'll want to read Penn's book. He goes into much more detail on every aspect covered in the show.
Books I plan to post on in February:
The Disappearance of Émile Zola: Love, Literature, and the Dreyfus Case by Michael Rosen
The White King: Charles I, Traitor, Murderer, Martyr by Leanda de Lisle
Brutus: The Noble Conspirator by Kathryn Tempest
The Gargoyle Hunters by John Freeman Gill
I've also been winding my way through The Landmark Julius Caesar and thoroughly enjoying it. I'm not sure how or when I'll post on it, but I definitely will.
On a side note, I want to thank everyone for their kind words. Things have returned almost to normal after my last surgery and it is such a blessing not to be in constant pain anymore. Now if my days were only half again as long so I could get caught up on everything...
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Harvard University Press, 2017
Series: I Tatti Studies in Itallian Renaissance History
The aim of this book has been to explore some of the most significant critics of the Avignon papacy, critics who in many ways came to prepare the ground for the harsh disputes in the coming two centuries in Europe. The critics have been selected because of the strength and originality of their arguments, their authorial voices in the contemporary debates, and the general impact of their work on later generations. ... Despite their striking dissimilarities—an expelled Florentine poet [Dante Alighieri], a physician trained at the University of Padua and later a rector at the University of Paris [Marsilius of Padua], a Franciscan friar and theologian from England [William of Ockham], a humanist at the papal court in Avignon [Francis Petrarch], a princess from Sweden [Birgitta of Sweden], and an uneducated young woman from the Sienese popolo grasso [Catherine of Siena]—these thinkers shared a series of factors. Primarily, their works were produced during the era of the Avignon papacy, which they all profoundly despised. ... [E]ach of them challenged in specific ways papal power and the papacy's stay in souther France, and they all played key roles in contemporary public debates. Moreover, a network of people and events links them together, and some of them probably even met each other in person as well. Finally, together they offer us a rich and detailed glimpse of the bitter and multifaceted conflicts over the legitimacy of the Avignon papacy from 1309, when the pope settled in Provence, to Pope Gregory XI's final return to Rome in 1377. (176-7)
I remember my interest in the 14th century began when I read Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror in high school. I knew I didn't understand everything going on, but the turbulence she described was fascinating to me. Plus it was the first time I heard or read about the Avignon papacy. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict this book won't be on too many holiday wish lists or "best of" lists, but it's one of my favorites of the year. Unn Falkeid has produced an overview of leading literary criticism of the papal move to Avignon in the 14th century as well as providing detail on how some of the critics' works addressed the problems they saw. There is a wealth of scholarship in this book, but Falkeid's "hope is that this book will spur on further interest. There is still much to explore...". (177) I'm in full agreement since there's quite a bit more I want to delve into after reading her book.
So what were these writers contesting? One area they focused on would be the struggle for power, both within the Catholic Church and between the church and states. Before the move to Avignon, Pope Boniface VIII issued the Clericus lacios bull in 1296, stating jurisdiction over clerics and their property was not subject to lay powers. Boniface later issued the bull Unam Sanctam in 1302, firmly asserting the pontiff's power over secular rulers. The pope, in other words, had full power on earth for spiritual and temporal matters. Even though this bull was later annulled by Boniface's (short-term) successor, the marker had been laid for the desired power of the papacy.
Pope Clement V moved the papacy and supporting cast to Avignon in 1305, where he and the next six popes resided until Pope Gregory XI moved the papal court back to Rome in 1377. Several of contesting writers saw Rome as the proper center for the church, but things didn't necessarily work out well on that front. Despite the return to Rome, the papacy was not fully embraced or welcomed. Political and religious turbulence flourished as religious schisms were on the horizon. Falkeid asserts in the introduction that she doesn't intend to give a detailed account, historical or otherwise, of the Avignon papal era. Instead she explores how writers of the time responded to the "Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy" and their political and religious implications.
The move from politically unstable Rome (and "Italy") to the more peaceful and pliant location of Avignon in southern France provided an opportunity for the papacy to bolster its power and wealth. Soon after Pope Clement V moved the religious court to this crossroad of trade and religious travel, Italian companies established trade/bank divisions located there, clearly following the money and power. They recognized what others would eventually see as the papal court bolstered their power and wealth in three main ways. First was the nomination of benefices, or appointing clergy to ecclesiastical offices. This move made priests, cardinals, etc. more indebted to the papacy. Second, Pope John XXII (1316 - 1334) began a system of papal taxes that created "an intricate, specialized fiscal system, which, together with the spoils from the newly banned Templars, rapidly developed the papal curia into a court that outshone all the secular courts in Europe in power and wealth." (21) Third was the growing power of the papal seat itself as it adopted a monarchical structure. This consolidated power and money insulated the pope not just from state leaders but also from high-ranking religious leaders attempting to challenge his power. Even with this consolidation of power and the resulting economic growth, the papacy would still have to navigate the tense political situation in Europe. It was the excessive claims of ecclesiastical power that led to much of these writers' criticisms.
Each chapter of the book provides a case study showing how the six figures tried to cope with the precarious situation that the Avignon papacy had created. Dante, Marsilius, Ockham, Petrarch, Birgitta, and Catherine did not only come to have a decisive influence on the political events of their time; as well as being significant political agents, their literary works dominated the agenda of the contemporary political and intellectual debates, with far-reaching effects for the political discourses of early modern Europe. (6)
Falkeid goes into some detail for these authors' criticisms and their suggested solutions. My brief notes here will cover only a few highlights of what she presents in the book. Dante, in Paradiso VI and Monarchia reveals how enamored he was with the Roman Empire. In Paradiso VI, Dante presents emperor Justinian looking at the separation of the powers of church and state and both of their divine origins. Since man has a dual nature of "the corruptible body and the incorruptible soul," man has two realms where he needs guidance. The emperor and the pope have similar missions but in different spheres, so the papacy's infringement on secular power caused Dante to lay out his concerns in Monarchia. Marsilius of Padua's Defensor pacis (The defender of peace) agreed with Dante that the church's creeping jurisdiction into political/secular matters was something to resist. Where Dante viewed both church and empire as divine gifts, though, Marsilius viewed both institutions as human inventions. Therefore power in each was to be derived from the people. Justice in each realm would be recognized by their smooth functioning, something sorely lacking in the 14th century. William of Ockham's Breviloquium de principatu tyrannico (A short discourse of tyrannical government) focuses on divine and natural rights granted as all human beings' fundamental liberties. This work, presented in the form of court testimony, examines the limitation of human rights granted by God and nature, which existed before any papal power. Because Ockham believed the pope's actions countered many of these divine and natural liberties, the pope was committing heresies.
In the mid-14th century, the writers Falkeid highlights begin to combine their attack of the physical location of the papacy with the ecclesiastical reforms that needed to be made. Petrarch's letter to Cola di Rienzo shows the author wading into the political fray after Cola's 1347 revolution in Rome. Petrarch's letter marks a trend in viewing papal legitimacy tied to its return to Rome. Birgitta of Sweden's Liber celestis revelaciones (Celestial book of revelations) records her visions as filtered through her scribes, translators, and confessors. Birgitta weaves politics and theology together as she presents herself as a widow of Rome, offering advice on how the miserable state of the church could be improved. Catherine of Siena's letters emphasized that it wasn't enough for the papacy to return to Rome—reforms were needed, too. While working as a peacemaker between warring factions in Italy, she made it clear she believed in the separation of powers between secular and ecclesiastical rule. She pointed out that the religious rulers would benefit from reforming the church in addition to returning to Rome. Not only benefiting the church, she predicted such moves would settle the chaos she witnessed in Rome.
By involving themselves in the political and ecclesiastical questions of the day, these writers helped shape some of the political thoughts of their time. While the book isn't meant as a complete overview of the times or of each author, it can serve as a wonderful introduction that should spur further investigation into the times and writings. Very highly recommended, especially for readers with some knowledge of the period.
A few of the books referenced
- Avignon and Its Papacy (1309 - 1417): Popes, Institutions, and Society by Joëlle Rollo-Koster
- The Popes of Avignon: A Century in Exile by Edwin Mullins
- Dante, Poet of the Desert: History and Allegory in the Divine Comedy by Giuseppe Mazzotta
- Dante's Vision and the Circle of Knowledge (Princeton Legacy Library) by Giuseppe Mazzotta
- Dante and the Making of a Modern Author by Albert Russell Ascoli
- Dante: A Critical Reappraisal by Unn Falkeid
- Marsilius of Padua and Medieval Political Philosophy by Alan Gewirth
- The Political Thought of William Ockham by Arthur Stephen McGrade
- Petrarch: A Critical Guide to the Complete Works by Victoria Kirkham and Armando Maggi
- St. Birgita of Sweden by Bridget Morris
- Catherine of Siena by Giulia Cavallini