Carlo Ginzburg: Miti emblemi spie


Myths Emblems Clues, and the Historical Method

Morfologia e storia

ISBN: 9788845938139
publisher: Adelphi
year: 2023
pages: 332


«Behind the circumstantial paradigm “is glimpsed perhaps the oldest gesture in the intellectual history of humankind: that of the hunter crouched in the mud scanning the tracks of his prey.” In this gesture I identify, rereading myself, as will have done, I imagine, many male and female readers. But what is the counterpart, in historical knowledge, to the tracks left by a vanishing prey?»

There are many, and varied, themes addressed in this extraordinary collection of essays: from witchcraft to the prohibition against knowing what is above; from Titian’s erotic paintings to Freud’s “wolf man,” interpreted as a failed werewolf; from Aby Warburg to the intertwining of reflections on myth and Nazi ideology in the writings of Georges Dumézil.

What links such distant research? The preface to the first edition insisted on morphology, used “like a probe, to probe a layer unattainable to the usual tools of historical knowledge.” And to morphology we return, in a different perspective, in the unpublished writings now added, hinging on the notion of the “invisible (and therefore reproducible) text.”

In this new edition Ginzburg also rereads the book from a fundamental theme: the relationship between clues and evidence. Is it safe to assume (as the author himself had done in the past) that the cognitive richness of the clues had led to the neglect of the importance of evidence? A devil’s advocate doubt, which led to reexamine from an unexpected angle the sequence that, starting from the Morelli-Freud-Sherlock Holmes triad, projects the reader on the one hand to Neolithic hunters, on the other to the present. And an invitation to turn into hunters of clues, to try to answer this and other questions.