The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering age of crusades, cathedrals, and chivalry; on the other, a world plunged into chaos and spiritual agony. In this revelatory work, Barbara W. Tuchman examines not only the great rhythms of history but the grain and texture of domestic life: what childhood was like; what marriage meant; how money, taxes, and war dominated the lives of serf, noble, and clergy alike. Granting her subjects their loyalties, treacheries, and guilty passions, Tuchman re-creates the lives of proud cardinals, university scholars, grocers and clerks, saints and mystics, lawyers and mercenaries, and, dominating all, the knight--in all his valor and "furious follies," a "terrible worm in an iron cocoon." Praise for A Distant Mirror "Beautifully written, careful and thorough in its scholarship . . . What Ms. Tuchman does superbly is to tell how it was. . . . No one has ever done this better."--The New York Review of Books
"A beautiful, extraordinary book . . . Tuchman at the top of her powers . . . She has done nothing finer."--The Wall Street Journal
"Wise, witty, and wonderful . . . a great book, in a great historical tradition."--Commentary
Although the importance of the advent of printing for Western civilisation has long been recognised, it was Professor Eisenstein, in her monumental, two-volume work, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, who provided the first full-scale treatment of the subject. This illustrated and abridged edition of Professor Eisenstein's study gives a stimulating survey of the communications revolution of the fifteenth century. It begins with a discussion of the general implications of the introduction of printing, and then explores how the shift from script to print entered into the three major movements of early modern times: the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the rise of modern science.
"The miracle of La Grande Jatte is its coincidence of critical distinction and popular celebration. High, low, mass, and popular cultures meet in mutual delight, continuing to revel in the mysteries of that Parisian Sunday."--from "The Park in the Museum" by Neil Harris
"Bedlam," "scandal," and "hilarity" were among the epithets used to describe the effect of what is now considered Georges Seurat's greatest work, and one of the most remarkable paintings of the nineteenth century, when it was first exhibited in Paris in 1886. A Sunday on La Grande Jatte--1884, an extensive landscape peopled with over forty figures, took the artist almost two years to complete. This sumptuous book, created to accompany a major exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, provides a fascinating, in-depth examination of the gestation, execution, and influence of Seurat's masterpiece.
La Grande Jatte has been part of the Art Institute of Chicago's collection since 1926. Bringing together all known studies and drawings directly related to the painting, this volume provides a visual and contextual survey of Seurat's working methods and aesthetic priorities, as well as the evolutionary process that culminated in his singular achievement. Included are more than fifty-five preparatory works, ranging from rich cont crayon drawings to oil sketches on small wood panels to larger studies painted on canvas. In their quantity, intricacy, and variety, these works reveal a compositional process that harks back to Old Master traditions and methods, which had been largely abandoned by Seurat's immediate predecessors, the Impressionists. The many studies attest to the artist's ambitions for his masterpiece and open up a broader context for understanding the work.
Seurat scholar Robert L. Herbert makes new revelations about the painting's relationship to its preparatory studies, stressing Seurat's empirical craftmanship. He compares La Grande Jatte to paintings by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Signac and analyzes the ways that twentieth-century critics, including Meyer Schapiro, T.J. Clark, and Linda Nochlin, have viewed the picture. He proposes that the enduring fascination of the famous canvas comes from Seurat's mixture of fashion and irony. Also giving new perspectives in this book, the noted cultural historian Neil Harris charts how and why La Grande Jatte attained its revered status at the Art Institute of Chicago and throughout the United States. Additionally, the exhibition's cocurators examine the painting's place in the museum's collection. Essays by Art Institute conservators show how Seurat transferred and altered figures from studies to final canvas and elucidate the exact nature of his pigments and brushwork. Color scientist Roy Berns traces the efforts to digitally recapture the original hues of Seurat's time-altered masterpiece. A landmark publication, this book provides dazzling proof of why La Grande Jatte is among the most frequently reproduced paintings in the world and why it continues to fascinate scholars and art lovers today.
The Black Death was the fourteenth century's equivalent of a nuclear war. It wiped out one-third of Europe's population, takingmillion lives. And yet, most of what we know about it is wrong. The details of the Plague etched in the minds of terrified schoolchildren -- the hideous black welts, the high fever, and the awful end by respiratory failure -- are more or less accurate. But what the Plague really was and how it made history remain shrouded in a haze of myths.Now, Norman Cantor, the premier historian of the Middle Ages, draws together the most recent scientific discoveries and groundbreaking historical research to pierce the mist and tell the story of the Black Death as a gripping, intimate narrative.
In an original and evocative journey through modern Paris from the mid-18th century to World War II, Patrice Higonnet offers a delightful cultural portrait of a multifaceted, continually changing city. In examining the myths and countermyths of Paris that have been created and recreated over time, Higonnet reveals a magical urban alchemy in which each era absorbs the myths and perceptions of Paris past, adapts them to the cultural imperatives of its own time, and feeds them back into the city, creating a new environment.
One of our Most Brilliant public intellectuals, Paul Berman has spent his career writing on revolutionary movements and their totalitarian aspects. Here he argues that, in the terror war, we are not facing a battle of the West against Islam--a clash of civilizations. We are facing, instead, the same battle that tore apart Europe during most of the twentieth century, only in a new version. It is the clash of liberalism and its enemies--the battle between freedom and totalitarianism that arose in Europe many years ago and spread to the Muslim world. The author considers the wars against fascism and communism from the past, and draws cautionary lessons. But he also draws from those past experiences a liberal program for the present--a program that departs in fundamental respects from the policies of the Bush administration.
Schama explores the mysterious contradictions of the Dutch nation that invented itself from the ground up, attained an unprecedented level of affluence, and lived in constant dread of being corrupted by happiness. Drawing on a vast array of period documents and sumptuously reproduced art, Schama re-creates in precise detail a nation's mental state. He tells of bloody uprisings and beached whales, of the cult of hygiene and the plague of tobacco, of thrifty housewives and profligate tulip-speculators. He tells us how the Dutch celebrated themselves and how they were slandered by their enemies.
"History on the grand scale...An ambitious portrait of one of the most remarkable episodes in modern history."--New York Times "Wonderfully inclusive; with wit and intense curiosity he teases out meaning from every aspect of Dutch seventeenth-century life."--Robert Hughes