The Cheese and the Worms is an incisive study of popular culture in the sixteenth Carlo Ginzburg uses the trial records to illustrate the religious and social. Professor Ginzburg’s book deals with an isolated heretical individual, not with a heretical . The Cheese and the Worms is enthralling reading. Carlo Ginzburg. The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Translated by John and Anne C. Tedeschi. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.

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Omg spoiler alert, I know. The title comes from this miller’s idea of the beginning works the universe; that it kind of curdled, like cheese, into being, and the angels chees out of it like worms. For a common miller, Menocchio was surprisingly literate. Even so, the coincidence itself is striking, especially in light of the more concrete evidence Ginzburg provides in his reading of the Inquisitional record.

Menocchio rejected original sin, believed that Christ was a man. Fino a che non chdese il rogo Ad un certo punto, Ginzburg afferma che i libri venivano maltrattati e bagnati e usati. Quotes from The Cheese and th The historian in me just can’t quite handle the leaps Ginzburg makes from the available evidence, though, so I’m really unsure if I will hang on to it.

Sure, he was uncommonly literate, and This book is so hyped in academic circles, that it was perhaps setting itself up as a disappointment before I even cracked it open.

The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller by Carlo Ginzburg

I think it’s an invention of men” So said a simple miller in very late sixteenth century rural Italy. Our hero, the miller Menocchio, could read and write, owned a few ginzbrug, 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. Carlo Ginzburg with a new preface translated by John and Anne C.

That said, as the first in its field, and as a highly intriguing study about a most interesting man, wroms work merits reading and re-reading — once for content and a second for technique.

The Cheese and the Worms

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. Though such a simple explanation that would provide a neat sense of closure on the subject is tempting to adopt, one can’t help but notice the empirical make-up of his metaphors.


Table of Contents Notes and Prefaces The Cheese and the Worms is an incisive study of popular culture in the sixteenth century as seen through the eyes of one man, the miller known as Menocchio, who was accused of heresy during the Inquisition and sentenced to death.

Tolerance, respect for the views of others, seems to have been one of the ideas for which Menocchio sought confirmation from his reading. Popular religion and the Counter-Reformation. The author uses Menocchio’s references to books he has read to argue for a relationship between “high” culture and “popular” culture in the lives of peasants such that the peasants are neither accepting unquestioned the culture handed down to them by dominant social groups nor creating spontaneously a self-contained peasant culture.

Sep 09, Stefan rated it it was amazing.

Menocchio spent most of his life as both an idiosyncratic heretic and a well-respected member of his community. Facinating book, but Ginzburg over-reaches.

It’s made a huge splash in The Study of Old Things, though, so I’m not surprised ginzbutg finally showed up in a class of mine on the reading list. So frankly it was very inspiring to read such a groundbreaking model!

What an incredible book! Domenico Scandella, known as Menocchio, lived from to or Ginzburg makes this case compellingly. Carlo Ginzburg uses the trial records to illustrate the religious and social conflicts of the society Menocchio lived in.

He owned a vernacular Chewse, a prohibited book.

The only reasonable explanation, in my opinion, is that Menocchio was: However, the investigations of Menocchio point toward an expanse of peasant oral culture, which thankfully, had an opportunity to surface in the transcripts of Menocchio’s two inquisitions. All these are more likely than Menocchio tapping into a primeval Indo-European peasant tradition of pantheism untouched by Roman or Christian religion.

I really ginzbudg this book, the first half of it especially.

Cheese and the worms were an explanatory analogy for him. Menocchio focuses of Joseph being the father of Christ. Refresh and try again. Znd was a shift in the metaphor from geographical to social. This is not quite another Montaillou. Beyond Menocchio, Ginzburg is able to give inklings about the early Renaissance culture ; his claim that Menocchio has used an unspoken “popular tradution” as a cradle for his idea makes me feel skeptical, for he was most probably not from the poorer, popular citizens of Montereale he knew how to read, had travelled and I saw more in Menocchio an example of how the spread of books helped forge one man’s opinion.


This text meant much to Menocchio. I’ve never had the pleasure of reading about such a well-documented life of any regular person that had lived before the s before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. That last piece of peasant shrewdness was enough: First, this new edition is a timely update. Finally, you are left again to wonder at Menocchio’s courage in standing his ground in front of the Inquisitors, his mental agility ; reading the letters he wrote, through his son, to ask for forgiveness adds a poignancy to his character and the unfairness of his end is saddening.

Menocchio had a “tendency to reduce religion to morality”, using this as justification for his blasphemy during his trial because he believed that the only sin was to harm one’s neighbor and that to blaspheme caused no harm to anyone but the blasphemer. Menocchio benefited from Venetian anti-clericalism when he was first on trial for heresy in He also probably read the Koran, of which an Italian translation appeared in Venice in wormms It’s microcosm history, and it’s hard to categorize because Aorms is taking a lot of liberties in saying what people were thinking and feeling when all we have is what they said.

That makes it all just seem like tenuous speculation.


Log In Register for Online Access. The work of reconstruction is brilliant, the writing superbly readable, and by the end of the book the reader who has followed Dr. He may not have actually read the books he says he did.