About Us

Friday, September 9

Writers in the Loft: Stephen Greenblatt

The Music Hall’s Writers in the Loft series presents bestselling author and Harvard Professor Stephen Greenblatt on Tuesday, September 27, at 7pm. The award-winning writer will discuss his new novel, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery. His appearance with Writers in the Loft will take place at The Music Hall Loft at 131 Congress Street in downtown Portsmouth.

“I was first introduced to Professor Greenblatt’s work through his New York Times bestseller Will in the World , which was a fabulous portrait of William Shakespeare. The Swerve should be remarkable in just the same way – as an investigation not just of a person and a time but of the motivation, determination,. and bit of magic that shifts an entire society and, with it, history. I look forward to all of us all hearing from Stephen Greenblatt and meeting him in the Loft,” said Patricia Lynch, Executive Producer of Writers in the Loft.

About the book:


The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

One of the world’s most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt shows how one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it.

In the winter of 1417, an unassuming Italian man named Poggio Bracciolini rode through the German countryside with a singular purpose: he was traveling to remote monasteries, seeking out ancient pagan Roman manuscripts. Little did he know that what he would find, tucked away on a shelf in an obscure monastic library, would be not just the literary discovery of his life but also an extraordinary document that would shape the course of modern human thought, ushering in the Renaissance and influencing such artists and scientists as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Darwin, and Freud.

That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, written circa 50 BCE by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius —a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions.

Lucretius’ verses nearly perished.  That On the Nature of Things did survive is little short of miraculous, it also had far-reaching impact:  Copernicus, Galileo, and Charles Darwin all built on the theories that Lucretius so eloquently espoused more than a millennium before.

The copying and translation of this ancient book—the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age—fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Freud and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson. 
 
In The Swerve, Greenblatt tells the amazing tale of how this influential manuscript was found, brought to light, celebrated and used by generations of scientists, artists, and big thinkers.  His report is a spellbinding work of scholarship.

About the author, Stephen Greenblatt

Stephen Greenblatt is the John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in Vermont.
 

About Writers in the Loft, ticket purchases

Writers in the Loft is akin to The Music Hall’s anchor author series, Writers on a New England Stage, featuring well-known authors but in a smaller, more intimate space.  It is produced as a partnership between The Music Hall and RiverRun Bookstore with Series Sponsor Citizens Bank. The series brings audiences the best of fiction and nonfiction from today’s top writers. 

Tickets to Writers in the Loft; Stephen Greenblatt  are on sale for $41 ($38 for members).  The ticket package includes a reserved seat, book (The Swerve, $26.95 hardcover), and bar beverage; author presentation/reading, Q+A, and book signing meet-and-greet.  Packages can be purchased through The Music Hall Box Office, located at 28 Chestnut Street, Portsmouth, over the phone at 603-436-2400 or online. If available, ticket packages can also be purchased on the night of the event at The Music Hall Loft Box Office at 131 Congress Street, beginning at 6:00pm for the 7pm event.  The author will autograph his book for package-purchasers at a book signing reception following his reading and discussion.