This remarkable account of his early life and imaginative development was left unpublished by Michael Baxandall, one of the world's greatest cultural historians, at his death in 2008. Presenting a mesmerising picture both of British intellectual life in the 1940s and 50s, and at the same time of the mental, emotional and cultural formation of a man destined to transform many aspects of that world over the next forty years, Episodes is both an unputdownably gripping story, and a vividly analytic tour de force. From early childhood in Cardiff and the valleys of South Wales to school and adolescence in Manchester, followed by study with F.R. Leavis at Cambridge and then in Germany, Italy and Switzerland, the book brilliantly evokes and observes the young man who finally decides not to write novels, but to become a scholar.
Recounting in coruscating detail life and work with John Pope Hennessy at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Baxandall's decision to join Gertrud Bing and Ernst Gombrich at the Warburg Institute at London University Episodes shows how the insights of the extraordinarily learned and original mature scholar were informed and moulded by the boy's enthusiasms, adventures, and rebellions. Both as a personal testimony, as a spellbinding series of vignettes and characterisations of famous and infamous contemporaries, and as a contribution to the cultural history of the mid-twentieth century, this is an essential and unforgettable book.
Michael Baxandall was probably the most influential art historian of his generation. In books including Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy, The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany, Patterns of Intention and Tiepolo and the Pictorial Intelligence (with Svetlana Alpers) he expanded the discipline's range of topics, approaches, and ways of writing. A professor at London's Warburg Institute and the University of California at Berkeley, he was also a member of the British Academy, and was awarded the Mitchell Prize, and prizes by the University of Hamburg, and the MacArthur Foundation. He died in 2008. One of Europe's most celebrated historians, Carlo Ginzburg is best known for his ground-breaking microhistory The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth Century Miller, which examined the beliefs of an Italian heretic. Other works include The Night Battles, on European witch persecutions, and The Judge and the Historian. He has been instrumental in persuading the Vatican to open the Inquisition Archives to researchers.