'Ronals Witt's new book, recipient in 2000 of the Renaissance Society of America's Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Book Prize... In the Footsteps of the Ancients' is without doubt an authoritative and erudite book. It fastens upon a topic that had previously escaped sustained scholarly attention. It combines the appeal of a fresh interpretation with a thorough and methodical approach, grounded in a grammatical and rhetorical textual analysis conscious of the relevant social and political contexts. Witt's analysis of the emergence of humanism, generation by generation, successfully conveys the longue duree of humanism's origins...In the Footsteps of the Ancients' deserves the close attention of all serious Renaissance scholars.' Hilmar M Pabel, The Catholic Historical Review, 2001.
This volume shows the stages of intellectual development through which humanism emerged as a European phenomenon. In an investigation of humanis culture in Italy between 1260 and 1340 shows how classical Roman rhetorical forms took root in Italy two generations before Petrarch and demonstrates that what earlier interpreters have called pre- or proto-humanism is indeed humanism. In subsequent discussion of Petrarch, Salutati and Bruni the author shows how Petrarch departs from earlier humanism and his reasons for doing so, places Salutati in a far broader frame of reference and the chapter on Bruni offers as complete a solution as we are likely to see of the problems of interpretation created by Baron's thesis regarding civic humanism.