The Beauty and the Terror: An Alternative History of the Italian Renaissance (Paperback)Catherine Fletcher (author)
*A THE TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020*
'Brilliant and gripping, here is the full true Renaissance in a history of compelling originality and freshness' Simon Sebag Montefiore
The Italian Renaissance shaped Western culture - but it was far stranger and darker than many of us realise. We know the Mona Lisa for her smile, but not that she was married to a slave-trader. We revere Leonardo da Vinci for his art, but few now appreciate his ingenious designs for weaponry. We visit Florence to see Michelangelo's David, but hear nothing of the massacre that forced the republic's surrender. In fact, many of the Renaissance's most celebrated artists and thinkers emerged not during the celebrated 'rebirth' of the fifteenth century but amidst the death and destruction of the sixteenth century.
The Beauty and the Terror is an enrapturing narrative which includes the forgotten women writers, Jewish merchants, mercenaries, prostitutes, farmers and citizens who lived the Renaissance every day. Brimming with life, it takes us closer than ever before to the reality of this astonishing era, and its meaning for today.
'Terrifying and fascinating' Sunday Times
'Enlightening...exactly the alternative history you might wish for' Daily Telegraph
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 432
Weight: 320 g
Dimensions: 196 x 126 x 32 mm
Impressive and lucid ... Fletcher's narration excels in such colourful details ... a scholarly, but vivid history that shows the impact that the machinations of the great, good and not so good had on the insignificant ... a persuasive account of how Italy was brought low even as the culture floated high -- Michael Prodger * The Times *
Richly well-informed and admirably well-written, containing material of real interest on every page ... has added a wealth of information that will be new to most of us -- Noel Malcolm * Sunday Telegraph *
A story of alliances, betrayals, sacks, sieges, famines, assassinations and gruesomely ingenious tortures ... Fletcher navigates this difficult terrain with great skill. She creates atmosphere and drama without any surrendering of clarity... A powerful book -- Charles Nicholl * Guardian *
Fletcher's expertise is enviable ... she knows better than anyone else just how treacherous a time and place it was. At its best, The Beauty and the Terror is as enlightening as you might hope: a chapter tracing early modern ambivalence about the rise of handguns ... is exactly the alternative history you might wish for, as are the sections on slavery, sexual mores and pornography -- Tim Smith-Laing * Daily Telegraph *
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“Lively 'popular' history but nothing 'alternative' here (unless your only knowledge of the period is from Burkhardt and Rowse!)”
This is a lively popular history of the Renaissance from 1492 through the sixteenth century, focusing primarily on Italy but not ignoring exploration, imperial colonialisation and the impact of, for example, the fall... More
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