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John Tedeschi Translator. Anne Tedeschi Translator. The Cheese and the Worms is a study of the popular culture in the sixteenth century as seen through the eyes of one man, a miller brought to trial during the Inquisition. Carlo Ginzburg uses the trial records of Domenico Scandella, a miller also known as Menocchio, to show how one person responded to the confusing political and religious conditions of his time.
For a common The Cheese and the Worms is a study of the popular culture in the sixteenth century as seen through the eyes of one man, a miller brought to trial during the Inquisition. For a common miller, Menocchio was surprisingly literate. In his trial testimony he made references to more than a dozen books, including the Bible, Boccaccio's Decameron, Mandeville's Travels, and a "mysterious" book that may have been the Koran. And what he read he recast in terms familiar to him, as in his own version of the creation: "All was chaos, that is earth, air, water, and fire were mixed together; and of that bulk a mass formed—just as cheese is made out of milk—and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Domenico Scandella. Montereale Valcellina Italy. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Cheese and the Worms , please sign up.
See 1 question about The Cheese and the Worms…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Fantastic study based on trial records of a sixteenth century Italian miller charged with heresy. The book offers a glimpse into an alternative and generally unheard from world-view that is full of so much imagination on the part of the miller that it should put many a fiction writer to shame.
That really is its strength and virtue, to be a reminder that the masses of people that now we label as Lutheran, Catholic or Anabaptist were a mess of individuals. While the beliefs of the hierarchies ca Fantastic study based on trial records of a sixteenth century Italian miller charged with heresy. While the beliefs of the hierarchies can be listed and referenced to published works the actual beliefs of their followers remain unknown unless they happened to run foul of the heresy courts in one jurisdiction or another, even then the inquisitor might be looking to squeeze them into some known category of schismatic or other.
Here by contrast are an individuals beliefs. Messy, uninfluential but individual. They offer as much of a clue as what people actually believed as the writings of a Luther or Zwingli and an insight with its images of mouldy cheese and God as master builder with sub-contracted angels creating the world into just how divergent the reception of ideas could be. View 2 comments. Jul 25, Karen rated it really liked it. Ginzberg used the story of Menocchio, a sixteenth century miller who was twice prosecuted and ultimately condemned by the inquisition for holding and preaching egregiously heretical beliefs.
Ginzberg uses his story to attempt to reveal what ideas were floating around in the general peasant population concerning the reformation and Catholic and protestant doctrine. The tale Ginzberg weaves has tantalizing possibilities, but it suffers from two general flaws. The most grave of which is that he clearly had too much information for a concise paper, but far too little evidence for a satisfying monograph.
Furthermore, making 62 chapters out of pages seems to be little more than the classic and transparent undergraduate technique to fill space. In his defense, the lack of pages comes not from a lack of research, but from a limited information pool — it seems that too many documents have been lost to time.
Ginzberg also patents what has become the downfall of microhistories by writing up to chapter 61 on just Menocchio, and then in the next to last chapter attempting to explain unconvincingly how this single man illustrates a sampling of the greater picture. When Ginzberg found himself in this said predicament, his resolution was to grasp at straws and attempt to make broad claims for which his work did not lay the proper foundation to support.
That said, as the first in its field, and as a highly intriguing study about a most interesting man, the work merits reading and re-reading — once for content and a second for technique. As with language, culture offers to the individual a horizon of latent possibilities—a flexible and invisible cage in which he can exercise his own conditional liberty.
Largely a detective endeavor of sorts with leanings towards literary analysis. The work itself is an account of a heresy trial in early modern Italy. While the fate of the miller might be grim, this book also offers a startling optimism. As Terry Eagleton once noted the fact that we send our youth to universities where they have a As with language, culture offers to the individual a horizon of latent possibilities—a flexible and invisible cage in which he can exercise his own conditional liberty.
As Terry Eagleton once noted the fact that we send our youth to universities where they have access to the revolutionary sway of ideas there's always hope for a liberated future. Ginzburg dazzles the reader with his erudition, his examination of the 16C testimony where a bit of a loud mouth freethinking miller finds himself in ecclesiastic court which wasn't quite Torquemada's Inquisition, yet it was during the Counter-Reformation and that didn't bode well.
The miller wanted an audience until he saw that his neck was on the line. His arrogant cosmology is rather fascinating. Ginzburg's parsing of the books the miller had read and juxtaposing such with his testimony is rather exciting. Jun 29, Nick rated it really liked it. We should not let the long tradition of smearing practicing Catholics as the brainwashed servants of a threatening foreign power—in which sensationalist and hyperbolic depictions of the Roman Inquisition play a part—from identifying the Catholic Church of the late sixteenth century for what it was: a repressive, cruel, and in modern terms fussily anal-retentive organization.
No justification can or should be sought for torture, for the wracking of Menocchio and countless others on the ropes of We should not let the long tradition of smearing practicing Catholics as the brainwashed servants of a threatening foreign power—in which sensationalist and hyperbolic depictions of the Roman Inquisition play a part—from identifying the Catholic Church of the late sixteenth century for what it was: a repressive, cruel, and in modern terms fussily anal-retentive organization.
The human scream cuts readily through such objections. The Inquisition targeted Menocchio not for arbitrary or merely punitive purposes, but because they rightly ascertained the very real threat he posed to Catholic hegemony in the hills of Friuli.
More precisely, Ginzburg claims that by examining the way Menocchio, a man of the oral culture, interprets or in some cases willfully misreads the books he encounters representatives of the print culture , we can thereby discern certain qualities of the oral culture; or may do so, at least, to the degree that the oral culture is extricable from that of print, and to the degree that separate spheres of culture may be defined along certain media.
Ginzburg makes this case compellingly. Even so, the coincidence itself is striking, especially in light of the more concrete evidence Ginzburg provides in his reading of the Inquisitional record. They are living documents, in that they present a theology that evolves before our eyes, in response to the attacks of his interrogator. This distinction is not found in the trial records of or the first half of those from , but under the pressure of the inquisitor, Menocchio begins splitting this particular hair.
The question is whether there was a real risk that they would be, and here the evidence is twofold. These ideas and convictions, or at least the soil in which they grow, come from the oral culture. The implication of this statement—and the cascade of vitriol that follows it—is that the peasantry are more susceptible to spiritual seduction than the elite, who are armed with their educations.
This emphasis, in contrast to the localization and syncretism of late medieval Christianity, was implicitly a validation of Protestant criticisms of the Church—that it practiced sloppy sacerdotalism rather than properly educating its members, or for that matter its clergy—and was an attempt to rectify these faults.
This was done for reasons both moral the genuine desire for spiritual improvement and political the destruction of Protestantism , and there is often much overlap between these categories. The renewed vigor, and consequent cruelty, of the Church during the Counter-Reformation meant that, barring overly literal counter-factuals i.
Shelves: european-history , own. This is an insightful book for all of us who assume European peasants were illiterate, uneducated, non-thinking folk. Our hero, the miller Menocchio, could read and write, owned a few books, borrowed a few more, had read the Decameron and dipped into the Koran, and combined the ideas he got from books with the oral tradition of 16th century rural Friuli to form his own slightly odd, very creative, para-Catholic religious notions.
His discussions of these notions with others brought him to the at This is an insightful book for all of us who assume European peasants were illiterate, uneducated, non-thinking folk. His discussions of these notions with others brought him to the attention of the local inquisition, which questioned him and decided he wasn't just a heretic, but a badass heresiarch.
He was influencing others, and needed to be imprisoned and forever wear a penitential garment. After a few years he was released from prison, but he couldn't stop talking, and ultimately the cardinal and pope put their red slippers down and insisted he be burned at the stake, pronto. The reason this book gets assigned in history courses is because of its historiographic interest, the overlap between social history and the history of ideas.
Jan 06, Jen rated it liked it. It's made a huge splash in The Study of Old Things, though, so I'm not surprised it finally showed up in a class of mine on the reading list.
So, the gist of the story and it really does read like a story, which is kind of neat is Ginzburg following the trials by the inquisition no, not the one you didn't expect, another one of a miller for being, well, batshit crazy about his theology. The title comes from this miller's idea of the beginning of the universe; that it kind of curdled, like cheese, into being, and the angels came out of it like worms. It's gross. And odd. And a lot of the other ideas of the miller Domenico Scandella, a.
Menocchio are also odd, and they eventually got him burnt. Omg spoiler alert, I know.
ISBN 13: 9788483073797
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