Cover: Magic and the Dignity of Man: Pico della Mirandola and His <i>Oration</i> in Modern Memory, from Harvard University PressCover: Magic and the Dignity of Man in HARDCOVER

Magic and the Dignity of Man

Pico della Mirandola and His Oration in Modern Memory

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$61.00 • £53.95 • €55.95

ISBN 9780674238268

Publication Date: 11/19/2019


704 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

22 illus.

Belknap Press


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Massive, lively, and learned… He explains how and why historians decided to put this Renaissance philosopher and his ideas not only in a box, but in the wrong one… Copenhaver analyzes the arguments of Pico’s critics with precision and panache… [He] has cut through generations of misguided commentary and shown us how to read this complex, baffling text.—Anthony Grafton, New York Review of Books

An impressive work of scholarship… Copenhaver does a masterful job of making Pico’s arcana accessible to his readers.—Lora Sigler, European Legacy

No one before Copenhaver has written such a careful and thorough review of the scholarship on Pico’s Oration… He is one of the best Pico scholars of our generation, and Magic and the Dignity of Man offers the fruits of his long labors. It puts to rest old myths and offers new interpretations. It is essential reading for anyone working on Pico’s Oration and will be of great interest to readers of the history of philosophy (and its historiography), especially late medieval and Renaissance philosophy.—Denis J.-J. Robichaud, Journal of the History of Philosophy

This book goes beyond a usual monograph in so many ways. It is not just a heartfelt history of the influence of Italian Renaissance humanist Gianfrancesco Pico on modern times, but a monument to Copenhaver’s scholarly contributions and enduring research on the life and work of this fundamental early modern philosopher… Indeed a remarkable love story, a delightful portrait of a protean, shapeshifting humanist, lost (and found) in translation.—Marco Piana, Journal of Modern History

Copenhaver painstakingly reconstructs the story, or rather stories, of how Pico and his Oration were read and misread over the centuries. This is very much a project of love.—Eva Del Soldato, Speculum

This is nothing less than the definitive study of a text long considered central to the understanding the Renaissance and its place in Western culture. Even though the effect of Copenhaver’s reading is to demote the text from that status, this book will certainly be a must-read for anyone, especially historians of philosophy and intellectual historians, interested in the larger significance of the Renaissance.—James Hankins, Harvard University

Brian Copenhaver’s Magic and the Dignity of Man is erudite, original, and eloquent. In it he carries out two major tasks, one of demolition and one of construction, with great skill and flair. The book reinterprets one of the most prominent thinkers of the Italian Renaissance in ways that will be widely discussed. No future interpretation of Pico’s life or work, no future reading of Renaissance philosophy, will be able to avoid engaging with it.—Anthony Grafton, Princeton University

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