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'In the Footsteps of the Ancients': The Origins of Humanism from Lovato to Bruni (Studies in Medieval and Reformation Thought,) (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – April 2000

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'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.


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Scholarship at its finest 26. November 2014
Von David - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
A monumental work of scholarship and highly polished final product. All earlier and later interpretations should be read with Witt's thesis in mind, as the book's central aim is to correct the emphasis on Petrarch as the key beginning point of humanism. Instead of seeing his precursors as "prehumanists," as is usually the case, Witt argues that he should be seen as the leader of a third generation of humanists. Seen in that light, Petrarch's originality lies in formulating and propagating a Christian humanism which differed from the secular-civic humanism of the first two generations of humanists.

In many regards this book is written for specialists, but it is also friendly towards non-specialists as the writing is clear and accessible and all foreign language passages are translated into English. Further, it is very useful for research on any of the particular figures he discusses and also for the overview of his argument presented in the introduction and conclusion. Witt writes with erudition and without pretension, and the book shows that a life's labour dedicated to one topic can result in an exceptional contribution to the history of ideas.
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