History of Humanism

History of Humanism

History of Humanism

History of Humanism

Excerpt

It was a long time before the first edition of this History of Humanism went out of print. Comparatively protracted, too, was the silence with which it was received by reviewers. But it would be wrong of me to complain of either. That time, that silence, were propitious to the success of the ideas embodied in the work.

The difficulties with which a book has to contend on first contact with its readers, are nobody's fault, nor are they, even, the fault of fortuitous circumstances: they are co-essential with the book itself.

When this volume of mine came out, the idea that Humanism and Renaissance (distinguishable, and even "gradable," for the public's convenience, insofar as some of their theoretical nuances are concerned) are inseparably connected in historical treatment, was, in the realm of Sapientia, peacefully unquestioned. No one dared to challenge that idea by thinking in terms of opposition to its framework. In spite of the fact that I had dearly spelled out on the cover: History of Humanism--that, therefore, its title was not History of the Renaissance--readers insisted upon interpreting me as saying that Humanism was approximately identical with Renaissance. When quickly scanning the work, they did not admit the dissociation of the two concepts; nor did they think of that dissociation after a more detained perusal. Benevolent or scowling, they always referred to the work as to "a synthesis of the Renaissance," an unprejudiced "revisal of the Renaissance." Whether in dissent or consent, they delighted in "looking out from the luminous balconies of the Renaissance"; they mistook, in conclusion, with such constant absentmindedness, the word Humanism for the word Renaissance, that I did not wish to stage a vertical plunge to the bottom of the earth out of sympathetic shame for them, but certainly wished that I might clutch at the hope that they had failed to read me.

More than once, unfortunately, I had to surrender to factual evidence.

Things remained more or less in this plight, when, one fine day, the idea that Humanism and Renaissance are distinct from each other, are marked off by differences more profound than sheer ideological nuances, rang out suddenly upon the horizon with the shattering clangor of a gong.

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