Joseph M. Levine (essay date 1981)
SOURCE: “Ancients and Moderns Reconsidered” in Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1, Fall 1981, pp. 72-89.
[In essay below, Levine traces the origins of the English Battle of the Books to disputes among Renaissance humanists.]
There is a point of view from which the whole history of ideas can appear to be a struggle between old and new, between the ancients and the moderns. But the contest that broke out afresh and with especial acrimony in the 1690s was unusual in that it was to a large extent a deliberate resumption of a very specific set of rivalries whose outlines were first laid down in Antiquity and which had come to life again during the Italian...
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