Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Politics of Ritual Kinship: Confraternities and Social Order in Early Modern Italy

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Politics of Ritual Kinship: Confraternities and Social Order in Early Modern Italy

Article excerpt

The Politics of Ritual Kinship: Confraternities and Social Order in Early Modern Italy. Edited by Nicholas Terpstra. [Cambridge Studies in Italian History and Culture.] (New York: Cambridge University Press. 2000. Pp. xi, 317. $69.95.)

The purpose of this Cambridge series is to `stimulate scholarly debate over a range of issues which have not hitherto received, in English, the attention they deserve." By that measure, this book is a failure. With rare exception, I could not pinpoint any issue that has not received the attention it deserves (after all, only eleven years ago Christopher Black, one of the authors in the present book, published a work also with Cambridge and on the same topic), and while some Italian work is translated here, no Spanish, French, or German scholarship makes it into this volume. Further, to save five or ten pages, Cambridge University Press has produced another ugly book by aligning footnotes side by side as well as from top to bottom. Finally, credit is not given to the translator of any particular article, certainly a breach of scholarly etiquette. In short, even for libraries the $69.95 price on this book is an outrage on all counts.

All this is not to say that these articles do irreparable damage to the study of confraternities. While little new ground is broken, the authors do, with shares raised, at least plow in a straight line. Most of the work is straightforward institutional history, and it must be said that the linkage between politics and confraternities receives remarkably little attention, articles by Bernardi and Eisenbichler being notable exceptions. …

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