The Cheese and the Worms : The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller
The Cheese and the Worms The Cosmos of a SixteenthCentury Miller Author:Carlo Ginzburg A survey of popular culture in 16th century Italy. — "A wonderful book... Ginzburg is a historian with an insatiable curiosity, who pursues even the faintest of clues with all the zest of a born detective until every fragment of evidence can be fitted into place. The work of reconstruction is brilliant, the writing superbly readable, and by the e... more »nd of the book the reader who has followed Dr. Ginzburg in his wanderings through the labyrinthine mind of the miller of the Friuli will take leave of this strange and quirky old man with genuine regret." -- J. H. Elliott, New York Review of Books« less
This book recounts the case of an Italian miller who clashed with the Roman Inquisition twice over his insistence on speaking about his heretical (according to the Inquisition) ideas. Menocchio used the metaphor of cheese forming to describe the beginnings of the universe, and "worms" - that is, angels - forming in the mass. Perhaps worst of all to the Inquisition was Menocchio's assertion that God was formed along with these angels in the primordial chaos, rather than being the creator of it all.
Menocchio was eventually burned at the stake for heresy, but not right away - the Inquisition actually let him go the first time, so long as he promised not to mention his ideas to anyone again.
This was an interesting book, in which both Menocchio and the Inquisitors are shown as complex people.