In this highly original study Joseph Mali explores how four attentive and inventive readers of Giambattista Vico's New Science (1744) - the French historian Jules Michelet (1798-1874), the Irish writer James Joyce (1882-1941), the German literary scholar Erich Auerbach (1892-1957) and the English philosopher Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) - came to find in Vico's work the inspiration for their own modern theories (or, in the case of Joyce, stories) of human life and history. Mali's reconstruction of the specific biographical and historical occasions in which these influential men of letters encountered Vico reveals how their initial impressions and interpretations of his theory of history were decisive both for their intellectual development and their major achievements in literature and thought. This new interpretation of the legacy of Vico's New Science is essential reading for all those engaged in the history of ideas and modern cultural history.
Joseph Mali teaches European intellectual history in the Department of History at Tel-Aviv University. His publications include The Rehabilitation of Myth: Vico's New Science (1992) and Mythistory: The Making of a Modern Historiography (2003).
1. Introduction; 2. Jules Michelet: Vico and the origins of nationalism; 3. James Joyce: Vico and the origins of modernism; 4. Erich Auerbach: Vico and the origins of historicism; 5. Isaiah Berlin: Vico and the origins of pluralism; 6. Conclusion.