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About the Author

Carlo Ginzburg is Professor Emeritus of History at UCLA and the author of, among other things, The Night Battles and The Cheese and the Worms (the first of his hooks to appear in English, winning instant acclaim).

Works by Carlo Ginzburg

Wooden Eyes (1998) 120 copies
No Island Is an Island (2000) 65 copies

Associated Works

The Return of Martin Guerre (1982) — Afterword, some editions — 1,313 copies
The Sign of Three. Peirce, Holmes, Dupin (1983) — Contributor — 132 copies
Socialism in One Country, 1924-1926, Vol. 1 (1958) — Translator, some editions — 79 copies
The New History: The 1980s and Beyond (1983) — Contributor — 11 copies
Religion and the people, 800-1700 (1979) — Contributor — 3 copies


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Ginzburg, Carlo
Legal name
Ginzburg, Carlo
Turin, Italy
Places of residence
Turin, Italy
Pisa, Italy
Los Angeles, California, USA
Bologna, Emilia Romagna, Italy
University of Pisa (dottore in Lettere)
Scuola Normal Superiore, Pisa
art historian
Ginzburg, Natalia (mother)
Ginzburg, Leone (father)
Ciammitti, Luisa (wife)
University of California, Los Angeles
Institute for Advanced Study
University of Bologna
Awards and honors
Balzan Prize (2010)
Aby Warburg Prize (1992)
Short biography
Carlo Ginzburg is an Italian historian who comes from a distinguished Italian literary and political family. His father was Leone Ginzburg (1909-1944) and his mother was Natalia Levi Ginzburg (1916-1991). He attended one of Italy's most prestigious secondary schools before receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Pisa. He became known as an innovative historian with the publication of his book Night Battles. After teaching in Italian universities, he came to the USA in 1973 to serve as a visiting professor. He was appointed Franklin D. Murphy Professor of Italian Renaissance Studies at UCLA in 1988. He was instrumental persuading the Vatican to open its archives on the Inquisition to scholars and researchers.



Interesting analysis of what might have fed into the belief which arose in Europe from the late 16th century of a Satanic cult, as opposed to the existing beliefs about witches as solitary magical practioners who sometimes did harm to their neighbours. Doubt has, however, been cast on some of this author's conclusions by Professor Hutton in his own book, 'The Witch', that I read recently, in particular the likelihood of shamanic practices being as widespread as this author contends.

Despite this, the various customs which he documents are of interest and I was particularly interested in the opening chapter about the attitude to lepers in the late middle ages, and how they were treated as conspirators against Christendom. I was aware of the persecution of Jews and people viewed as having heretical beliefs, but had not known that lepers also were persecuted, tortured and executed in the same way as those groups and later, those accused of witchcraft.

The author does in places have a tendency to resort to academic language which went over my head rather, but the parts written straightforwardly were fine, and on the whole I rate this at 3 stars.
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kitsune_reader | 1 other review | Nov 23, 2023 |
Eight essays that provide insight into Carlo Ginzburg's own view on historical research. Ginzburg (° 1939) is the father of microhistory, the study of seemingly small details with the goal of revealing the bigger picture. Some of the essays in this collection give an idea of how he does this, for example in a brilliant analysis of a witch trial in the Italian city of Modena in 1519 in which he shows how 'orthodox' and 'diabolical' faith actually betray the same mindset. In some essays Ginzburg writes in a very theoretical way and his argument becomes very difficult to follow. More in my historical account on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1565474776… (more)
bookomaniac | 1 other review | Nov 13, 2023 |
A great account of the inquisition of a miller who can read and think independently which turns into a major problem in the 16th century. His own personal religion is a bizarre collection of folk wisdom and logic applied to a theology of which he only partially understands the orthodox version in the first place. He's also stubborn and unrepentant enough to come back for seconds after getting clemency for a sentence that nearly kills him. Fascinating character.
A.Godhelm | 26 other reviews | Oct 20, 2023 |
‘The sequence cheese-worms-angels-holy majesty-God, the most powerful of the men-angels, had been abbreviated along the way to that of cheese-worms-men-God, the most powerful among men.’

Such an engrossing analysis of a 16th century heresy trial, Menocchio is such an inspiring figure (aside from his all too human lapses and contradictions when he becomes too verbose and realises he won’t achieve clemency, denying what he had previously said and in the process demeaning himself). His individual musings on Christian theology, with his radical humanist assertion that the love of one’s neighbour supersedes the love of God in importance, as well as his invocations of oral traditions and influences ranging from the Quran to pantheism to the Anabaptists to the Lutherans even through to the Greek conception of chaos, were immensely enjoyable to read. I feel like him and Judge Schreber would have recorded an absolutely great podcast over goblets of mead in some tavern.

It’s also darkly amusing to reflect on just how willing religious authorities were to employ methods of torture and months of interrogations on a man who everybody was pretty much assured posed no real threat - it’s so strange to think that the Pope himself stooped so low as to sign and intensely follow the progress of this man’s death warrant. He was externally submissive to the daily trappings of the Church (following Pascal’s advice a whole century before he penned it), had no real interest in converting those around him to his fancies (he himself was always careful to say he never wished his family to share his views, and that his thoughts were mere opinions and not the truth) and was a greatly appreciated member of his society, even being allowed to work in the Church after being branded a heretic and forced to don the habitello which he hated so much. In spite of the torture, the years of prison he endured and the illness and frailty he fell prey to, he never once ratted on those companions to who he may have indulged both his mind and tongue on rare occasions. Shoutout to Menocchio, the man who made the Inquisition his bitch in the only way a self-taught Miller could.
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theoaustin | 26 other reviews | May 19, 2023 |



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