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New Worlds, Ancient Texts

New Worlds, Ancient Texts

The Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery

Anthony Grafton

ISBN 9780674618763

Publication date: 03/15/1995

Describing an era of exploration during the Renaissance that went far beyond geographic bounds, this book shows how the evidence of the New World shook the foundations of the old, upsetting the authority of the ancient texts that had guided Europeans so far afield. What Anthony Grafton recounts is a war of ideas fought by mariners, scientists, publishers, and rulers over a period of 150 years. In colorful vignettes, published debates, and copious illustrations, we see these men and their contemporaries trying to make sense of their discoveries as they sometimes confirm, sometimes contest, and finally displace traditional notions of the world beyond Europe.


  • Grafton’s book is about the identity of the Americas—an identity hewn out of intellectual conflict, just as much as military or political conflict.

    —David McKitterick, New York Times Book Review


  • Anthony Grafton is the author of The Footnote, Defenders of the Text, Forgers and Critics, and Inky Fingers, among other books. The Henry Putnam University Professor of History and the Humanities at Princeton University, he writes regularly for the New York Review of Books.
  • April Shelford is a graduate student in history at Princeton University.
  • Nancy Siraisi is Distinguished Professor of History at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Book Details

  • 296 pages
  • 8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press
  • With April Shelford and Nancy Siraisi

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