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The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy

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Carl Jacob Christoph Burckhardt (Basel, May 25, 1818 - August 8, 1897 in Basel) was a historian of art and culture, and an influential figure in the ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy

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PB

Italy in 1860

by PB on Mar 24, 2011

In the time-short lives the average person lives evaluating the thesis of any text often is by default reduced to a singular, but critical parameter. As when driving a car, does the stop-light show a green or red light? In the case of Burckhardt's "classic" work on the Renaissance the red light is the failure of author and editors to disclose the struggle to create modern Italy in the 1850s, which culminated in 1861, the year after Burckhardt's book was first published. This is evidence either that the agenda of the author's and editors is not transparent or that they are hopelessly incompetent. Since neither the University of Cambridge nor Basel employ the unintelligent or inept, the only alternative left is to consider the creation and promotion of this text as the product of an overt political process that sought to further the creation of a new state that would arise at the expense of the German Austrian Empire and the Roman Catholic Church. Burckhardt sought to impose the notion of "Italy" and "Italians" as a "race" that carried unique capabilities back five hundred years onto a geographic region that was neither united politically nor linguistically. This fragmented region was united into a new nation in 1861 called "Italy" which employed the Tuscan dialect as its national language at the very time Buckhardt was touting his notion of unique "Italian" racial characteristics. These apparently were purported to exist from the Alps to Sicily and from Sardinia to Venice despite a millenium of political and linguistic fragmentation and invasion by successive waves of Goths, Huns, Slavs, Normans, Turks and Arabs. While this notion is highly problematic itself, the failure of either author or editors to disclose the Italian nation-building that was ongoing during the period Burckhardt was concocting his myth of the Renaissance unequivocably brands the text as erroneous, either by incompetence or by deliberate disception. Italian nation-building in 1860 required a myth for unification. Burkchardt and his followers have attempted to provide that myth for the 150 years since his text was first published. Failure to disclose the nation building effort at the very time Burckhardt was writing his text is clear evidence that the book is fundamentally and fatally flawed.

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Should a discussion of Renaissance Italy explain the stuggle for unification in the 1850s?

In his "Physics", Aristotle tells us that when Italus became king of Oenotria. his kingdom came to be called Italia (Italy). Over time, the Greeks came to identify all the peninsula south of the Po River as Italia, not just the toe where Italus had ruled. The "Italians" returned the favor by calling ... Read more

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