Books > It’s always the quiet ones

06 June 2018 | by Luigi Gioia

It’s always the quiet ones

It’s always the quiet ones

PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA'S RESURRECTION: '... demands that you listen to it so as not to lose any of the qualities it has accrued during its long gestation'


Alain Corbin’s A History of Silence is part of his endeavour to tackle history not so much from the viewpoint of mentalities but of sensibilities: we can make sense of what people of past ages did not only by understanding what they thought but especially through imagining what and how they felt.

It is tempting to dismiss this enterprise as a mere aesthetic quest and to be baffled by the disparity of experiences collected under the same umbrella: the silences of prayer, of particular places in nature, of vanitas paintings, stands with  “the dense silence that is in ­animals”, silence as expression of good ­manners, “the art of keeping quiet” mastered by courtiers, silence as an instrument of power


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