Posts Tagged ‘narrative in history’

I once had a teacher at Berkeley named Robert Brentano, a historian of medieval Europe whose mind crackled with all the restlessness and complexity The Swerve lacks. In an afterword to his most famous book, Two Churches, a study of English and Italian churchmen in the 13th century, Brentano wrote of his desire to dispense with narrative in history altogether. The best historical writing, he wrote, can present “a series of images and ideas whole, clear, bright, and let the transition occur, as it should, without the dullness of written words. Without words, transition becomes beautiful. If I ever have enough nerve, I shall write history completely without transition.”

From the conclusion of Jim Hinch’s review of Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Read more…

Why Stephen Greenblatt is Wrong — and Why It Matters