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  • For the Sake of Learning: Essays in Honor of Anthony Grafton eds. by Ann Blair and Anja-Silvia Goeing
  • William J. Connell
For the Sake of Learning: Essays in Honor of Anthony Grafton. Edited by Ann Blair and Anja-Silvia Goeing ( Boston, Brill, 2016) 2 v. 1082 pp. $331.00

For the Sake of Learning is a splendid two-volume monument to Grafton's career. Renaissancers are necromancers. Grafton is a master necromancer. [End Page 493] Whereas Odysseus dug a trench, poured libations, and sacrificed sheep to speak with the dead, one trusts that Grafton's rites aremore prosaic. Yet, possibly sometimes in his dreams, he panics like Odysseus and waves a sword at the horde of souls swarming from Erebus. His interlocutors—Joseph Scaliger, Politian, Battista Guarino, Gerolamo Cardano, Johannes Trithemius, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Guillaume Budé, Justus Lipsius, Lorenzo Valla, Johannes Kepler, Leon Battista Alberti, Isaac Casaubon, Edward Gibbon, Jacques Hardouin Mansart, Giambattista Vico, John Dee, Athanasius Kircher—are a striving, clamorous crowd. Unlike the singing poets in Dante's "splendid school" (Inferno 4.94) or the smiling lights in his "wheel" of Christian writers (Paradiso 10.145), Grafton's men (and men they all are) vie for attention and bristle with hatreds and vices. Their astounding errors, fraudulent scholarship, fanciful dreams, beliefs both orthodox and heretical, and their sometimes abusive manners all serve to illuminate the many crooked paths by which modern philology, experimental science, and history as presently practiced came into being. Grafton's influence on historical scholarship in the decades before and after 2000 has been remarkable, and the volumes of this Festschrift pay it due tribute.

The project, ably edited by Blair and Goeing, begins with a biographical sketch of Grafton written by Blair and Nicholas Popper, followed by a bibliography of Grafton's writings that fills twenty-seven pages and reads like a Jorge Luis Borges ficción. Each of the fifty-six essays, distributed among seven Parts and an Epilogue, responds to subjects or themes that Grafton has addressed over the course of his career. Part I, about "Scaliger and Casaubon" includes substantial treatment of the two men's correspondences, a new letter from Sarpi to Casaubon, a fascinating look at a second-rate Hebraist (Arnaldus Pontacus) who wandered onto Scaliger's turf, an essay about portraits of Scaliger as an orientalist, and a critical edition of Scaliger's brief treatise about the apocryphal books of the Bible.

"Knowledge Communities" are the subject of the second part, which includes essays about early modern street culture; the networks of a physician (Baudouin Rousse), of a theatrical family (the Andreini), and of Athanasius Kircher; and the politics of Francis Bacon's reading of others, and of him by them. "Scholarship and Religion" covers a biography of Mohammed by Pomponio Leto that was never intended as a biography, Luther's marginalia in his copy of Desiderius Erasmus' Annotations of the New Testament (1516), the preparation post-Trent of a new Vulgate and a new Septuagint, demonology and perception, John Selden's reception in Germany, animal imagery in connection with the Popish Plot, Lutheran Islamophiles, and a continuing role in modernity for what the Romans called their rex sacrorum (king of the sacred rites).

"Cultures of Collecting" includes studies of the books owned by early Christian writers, the Greek texts named in a dialogue by Angelo [End Page 494] Decembrio, the rich library of Hernando Colón, the recovery of a volume by Conrad Gessner, the sixteenth century's production of "meta-data" for information searches, lettering in the Vatican Library, the Hebrew encyclopedia of Pin as Hurwitz, and ornithology in the Dresden Kunstkammer. "Learned Practices" comprises pieces about graphic visualization, a rhetorical manuscript from Padua, Cardano's mistaken horoscope of Regiomontanus (of all people!), the Lingua Adamica, Catholic censorship of several of Petrarch's sonnets, Tommaso Campanella and Niccolò Machiavelli, a role for God and spirits in the work of Robert Boyle and those around him, and nineteenth-century scrapbooking.

"Approaches to Antiquity" offers essays that discuss a poem written circa 1400 that has King Arthur carousing, oddly, in Viterbo; humanists' use of terms for relics when treating codices; Cyriac of Ancona...


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