Monday, June 1, 2015

Anthony Grafton

Anthony Grafton is the Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University.

He is the co-editor of The Classical Tradition.

From his 2013 Q & A with Noah Charney for The Daily Beast:

I’ve asked this question of Stephen Greenblatt, Martin Kemp, and Christopher Celenza, and I’m curious of your response. I came across a note that stated that Leonardo da Vinci owned 118 books by the time he died, which was a very good number for the early 16th century, but I cannot find an itemized list. What do you think would have featured in the library of a well-read 16th-century Italian thinker and artist, and what “classical” texts would not have featured (because they were not yet known) that might surprise us?

That’s a really good question! Lots of things that now seem canonical would not have been accessible to Leonardo, who was not that proficient in Latin. There were many things only in Greek in his lifetime, or not all that readable in their first translations. I don’t know how many people really “got” Thucydides, reading it in Lorenzo Valla’s first translation. I do think that Leonardo was more of a reader than he is credited with being. I’ve always been fascinated with his idea that he wanted to create a version of Ptolemy’s Geography for the human body, and by the way in which he clearly had read Alberti’s work, and wrestled with it. It’s clear that it wasn’t just annotation of his own thoughts; he also was responding to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue