The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller

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JHU Press, 1992 - History - 177 pages

The Cheese and the Worms is a study of the popular culture in the sixteenth century as seen through the eyes of one man, a miller brought to trial during the Inquisition. Carlo Ginzburg uses the trial records of Domenico Scandella, a miller also known as Menocchio, to show how one person responded to the confusing political and religious conditions of his time.

For a common miller, Menocchio was surprisingly literate. In his trial testimony he made references to more than a dozen books, including the Bible, Boccaccio's Decameron, Mandeville's Travels, and a "mysterious" book that may have been the Koran. And what he read he recast in terms familiar to him, as in his own version of the creation: "All was chaos, that is earth, air, water, and fire were mixed together; and of that bulk a mass formed—just as cheese is made out of milk—and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels."

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rivkat - LibraryThing

Odd little book, apparently a classic of the field. It’s hard to reconstruct the history of non-elites, and Ginzburg argues in opposition to those who say it can only be done through statistics ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Stbalbach - LibraryThing

The Cheese and the Worms is the history of a peasant who was put on trial for heresy. It draws on Inquisition source documents to help reveal something about popular culture which is otherwise obscure ... Read full review

Contents

Menocchio
1
The town
4
First interrogation
5
Possessed?
6
From Concordia to Portogruaro
7
To speak out against his superiors
12
An archaic society
13
They oppress the poor
16
Peasant religion
68
The soul
69
I dont know
70
Two spirits seven souls four elements
72
Contradictions
75
Paradise
76
A new way of life
79
To kill priests
81

Lutherans and Anabaptists
18
A miller a painter a buffoon
21
head
27
The books
28
Readers of the town
30
Printed pages and fantastic opinions
31
Blind alley?
32
The temple of the virgins
34
The father of Christ
36
Judgment day
37
Mandeville
41
Pigmies and cannibals
44
God of nature
47
The three rings
49
Written culture and oral culture
51
Chaos
52
Dialogue
54
Mythical cheeses and real cheeses
56
The monopoly over know ledge
58
The words of the Fioretto
60
The function of metaphors
62
Master steward and workers
63
An hypothesis
65
End of the interrogations
86
Letter to the judges
87
Rhetorical figures
90
Prison
93
Return to the town
95
Denunciations
98
Nocturnal dialogue with the Jew
101
Second trial
102
Fantasies
103
Vanities and dreams
107
Oh great omnipotent and holy God 108
108
If only I had died when I was fifteen
109
Second sentence
110
Torture
111
Scolio
112
Pellegrino Baroni
118
Two millers
119
Dominant culture and sub ordinate culture
125
Letters from Rome
127
Notes
129
Index of Names
173
Copyright

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About the author (1992)

Carlo Ginzburg is a professor at Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Italy, and the recipient of the prestigious International Balzan Prize. He is author of The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century and Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method, also published by Johns Hopkins.

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