This book is complete trash, I don't understand how this won a Pulitzer Prize. Then again, Guns, Germs, and Steel did too so I shouldn't be surprised. It's well written but I'm only a couple chapters in an already it:
>falls for the ridiculous "hurr the Middle Ages were the Dark Ages" meme
>constantly talks about how the Renaissance was so enlightened and shit compared to the Middle Ages, like one day everybody woke up and was euphoric and educated
>repeatedly spits on the legacies of monks, saying that they only copied down books because they had to, not because they genuinely loved knowledge
>calls monks lazy idiots who blindly followed superstition
>takes repeated pot shots at the Church (while conveniently ignoring all the of knowledge the Muslims had destroyed at this time period)
>supports the idea that philosophy and curiosity was outlawed
The last one especially rustles my jimmies. Philosophy was well encouraged in the Middle Ages. Early Christianity is filled with theologians who went on to become saints because of their philosophies and their questioning of beliefs. The Ecumenical Councils were literally completely about discussing theology and dogma and debating which one should be correct. Well into the Middle Ages, there were even theologians who attacked St Augustine's beliefs on original sin and filloque. Not necessarily denouncing the dogma but rather the way he reached it.
Why is Stephen Greenblatt worshiped like he's an amazing historian? Not even 4 chapters into the book and he supports ridiculous, disproved ideas like "the Dark Ages," "the ebil Catholic Church," and "feudalism."
Oh, because he wrote this book for retarded high schoolers who can't or don't want to actually do research into the Middle Ages and find out just how progressive it actually was. When is this "Christianity destroys progress and knowledge and outlaws curiosity" meme going to die?
Oh and let's not forget passages where he claims monks actively refused to preserve ancient works of classical literature and philosophy because they believed "pagan beliefs" shouldn't be preserved. Great idea, Greenblatt. I wonder how we have literally thousands of medieval manuscripts of ancient texts, then.
I can't believe people eat this crap up. Somewhere out there, there are thousands of monks rolling over in their fucking graves as their ancestors spit on the legacy of Christianity and the hard work of thousands of people to hold onto and preserve the knowledge of the past. And now some angsty euphorics are equating scholars and men of piety to literal book-burning Nazis.
He also provides zero citations for his ridiculous anecdotal evidence of such events as "monks sticking their fingers in their mouths and gagging as a 'universally' accepted Christian sign for wishing to see a 'pagan' text"
Jesus H Christ, and this fucker calls himself an historian while writing books for adolescent fedoras to circle jerk to as it reinforces their stereotype of evil, ignorant Christians.
We did actually lose massive, massive amounts of ancient knowledge. I don't doubt that a lot of it was because of the preference to transcribe shitty boring saints' lives instead of raunchy old Roman literature.
Would require strong sources to accept the claim of blatant refusal to preserve ancient literature because it was pagan. But I wouldn't find it too surprising if some/a lot of monks were that pigheaded.
The "Dark Ages" is a normie meme. Anyone that has actually studied medieval history is well aware that they didn't exist. Philosophy, the arts, and a precursor to science was as alive in the Middle Ages as it was in the Renaissance, the chief difference being that the Middle Ages lacked to the tools to inquire to the same degree that Renaissance humanists, with microscopes and telescopes, did.
Yes, I agree with that. Obviously a Christian monk will prefer to transcribe, as you said, a boring saint's life rather than ancient Roman plays. But to claim that they blatantly "refused" to do such things because "HURR IF IT AINT GOD FUCK IT" is patently disingenuous and false.
The point of the dark ages is that lots of technologies, techniques, etc were lost to western Europe after the collapse of the western roman empire, which is undeniably true. Not that philosophy and what not didn't exist.
Although such things certainly did exist to a lesser extent than what was seen under the roman empire. Fort making for instance became a largely forgotten art during the early middle ages.