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The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a…
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The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller (original 1976; edition 1992)

by Carlo Ginzburg, John Tedeschi (Translator), Anne C. Tedeschi (Translator)

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1,346189,125 (3.94)25
"A wonderful book... Ginzburg is a historian with an insatiable curiosity, who pursues even the faintest of clues with all the zest of a born detective until every fragment of evidence can be fitted into place." -- New York Review of Books
Member:nickpelling
Title:The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller
Authors:Carlo Ginzburg
Other authors:John Tedeschi (Translator), Anne C. Tedeschi (Translator)
Info:The Johns Hopkins University Press (1992), Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller by Carlo Ginzburg (1976)

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» See also 25 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Odd little book, apparently a classic of the field. It’s hard to reconstruct the history of non-elites, and Ginzburg argues in opposition to those who say it can only be done through statistics. Reading records of an inquisition, Ginzburg identifies what he argues is a peasant tradition of religious belief that contradicted a lot of Catholic doctrine, which the titular miller expressed when he was hauled up on blasphemy charges. The miller definitely seems to have had a well developed and elaborate theory of religion, though he struck me as a classic outsider whose own theories might not have been based on anything directly from a peasant tradition. ( )
1 vote rivkat | May 20, 2019 |
The Cheese and the Worms is the history of a peasant who was put on trial for heresy. It draws on Inquisition source documents to help reveal something about popular culture which is otherwise obscure to history as few people wrote about about peasant lives. The Cheese and the Worms is probably the most popular book of this genre sometimes called microhistory.

The sixteenth-century Italian miller, Menocchio, arose from the ferment of uneducated peasant culture with sophisticated ideas about the cosmos. Historian Carlo Ginzburg struggles to explain how and where Menocchio obtained ideas similar to high European culture current at the time. Indeed so did the Inquisition, there must be some larger heresy at play, they thought. Unsurprisingly the questions the Inquisition sought to answer (and documented in trial records) are what Ginzberg follows. It is never possible to conclude, but Menocchio himself says his cosmological ideas were self-invented, and this is probably true. There is no evidence of an underground organized heresy, rather an outspoken Uncle Bob sort of figure who doesn't know when to shut up about his peculiar ideas, shunned by his community, abandoned by his family, given every chance to reform - yet he goes on talking heresy! Poor Menocchio, "Oh poor me", he is recorded as saying under torture (apparently the Inquisition recorded every groan and mumble during torture sessions). He knew just enough to be dangerous, probably absorbed through the osmosis of the era and the few books he read, but was an unsophisticate and the system crushed him. As the Bobby Fuller Four might say, he fought the church and the church won. Ginzburg eerily hints in the end that his story was not unusual, there is a long list of people destroyed by the Church, their stories forgotten to history. ( )
1 vote Stbalbach | May 10, 2019 |
Ginzburg takes us into the mind of a 16th century Italian miller- Domenico Scandella AKA Menocchio - who, unusually, was literate and possessed of some very unusual views.
Some are stand-up opinions- a disbelief in the value of confession; some strangely misguided- if Christ had actually been divine, he wouldn't have let himself be crucified - and some frankly off-the-wall - his explanation of creation: "all was chaos...and out of that bulk a mass formed - just as cheese is made out of milk - and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels."
One feels Menocchio would have been a fascinating person to converse with, his 'singular cosmogeny' all his own. Yet as someone who left no great legacy of useful thought, the reader soon wonders why he has a book devoted to him - we deplore his untimely end at the hands of the Inquisition, but still...
It seemed to me, as I read, that rather than being a study of one man, the author's interest was in teasing out the influences that put those ideas there. A number of different sources are investigated: obviously, the religious thoughts of the time, as the Reformation got going, but also politics (the peasant uprisings finding an echo in Menocchio's refusal to accept others - nobles or priests- having power over him). And books...he seemed to have read quite widely for the time, his thoughts a hotchpotch of elements from different works. And folk belief ...

This is a fairly dense albeit readable work. I made it halfway through. I took on board the many threads that go together to inform our belief system. But I just couldn't sustain enough interest in the man to pursue it any further. ( )
1 vote starbox | Jan 12, 2019 |
Ginzburg's monograph introduces the reader into the "mind world" of the 16th century, northern Italian miller who upon reading various books, some of which were prohibited by the Church, creates his own understanding of the Bible and the world. The author creates marvelous insight into the mindset of the miller and the impact of book reading. ( )
  MTaniyama | Sep 29, 2016 |
It's an incredibly dense and rather redundant work, but once I got into it, it was enjoyable. Definitely reccomend to anyone interested in Renaissance ideas, the Inquistion, religion, class conflict . . . so, basically to everyone up for a bit of an academic read that has a very human story at its center. ( )
  Kristin_Curdie_Cook | Apr 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Then there is the fascinating study of Menocchio, the sixteenth-century miller. Historian Carlo Ginzburg anatomizes his intellectual universe by triangulating between Menocchio's few books and the depositions taken at his trial for heresy. In The Cheese and the Worms, Ginzburg combines scholarly excavation with shrewd surmise to suggest how this lettered worker assembled a cosmology--one coprised in part from the rich reserves of the dominantly oral culture, and in part from his intense and methodical, if also fanciful, readings of the few texts he owned.
added by jodi | editThe Owl Has Flown, in [The Gutenberg elegies: the fate of reading in an electronic age], Sven Birkets (Nov 16, 2015)
 

» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carlo Ginzburgprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hadders, GerardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ronteltap, RuudTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tedeschi, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tedeschi, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vogogd, Pietha deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Tout ce qui est interessant se passe dans l'ombre. On ne sait rien de la veritable histoire des hommes...CELINE
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His name was Domenico Scandella, but he was called Menocchio.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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