La géographie de la Renaissance (1420-1620)by Numa Broc

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  • La gographie de la Renaissance (1420-1620) by Numa BrocReview by: G. S. DunbarIsis, Vol. 72, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), p. 319Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of The History of Science SocietyStable URL: .Accessed: 08/05/2014 21:05

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  • BOOK REVIEWS-ISIS, 72: 2: 262 (1981) 319

    * Renaissance & Reformation

    Numa Broc. La ge'ographie de la Renais- sance (1420-1620). (Comit6 des Travaux historiques et scientifiques: M6moires de la Section de geographie, 9.) 258 pp., illus., bibl., indexes. Paris: Bibliotheque nation- ale, 1980.

    Numa Broc of the Perpignan University Center has been a prolific writer on the history of geography for more than a dec- ade. His Montpellier doctoral theses have been published: Les montagnes vues par les geographes et les naturalistes de langue fran- raise au XVIIIe siecle (Doctorat de 3ieme cycle, 1966; Paris: Bibliotheque nationale, 1969-Memoir 4 of the same series as the book under review) and La ge'ographie des philosophes: Ge'ographes et voyageurs fran- Cais au XVIIIe siecle (Doctorat de l'Etat, 1972; Paris: Editions Ophrys, 1975). Un- fortunately, neither was reviewed in Isis, although they were more original and there- fore of greater potential interest to this readership than the book under review.

    La ge'ographie de la Renaissance is dedi- cated to two great French historians of geography and cartography, Lucien Gallois and Charles de la Ronciere, who both died in 1941. Indeed, the book seems to have been written in the style of those masters and draws on the same sources. Broc reaf- firms his claims to sole possession of the mantle of Franqois de Dainville (1909- 1971). His present book is a reasonable synthesis but not a piece of original re- search. It is a balanced, well-written survey that should be appreciated for its general usefulness and not regarded as the last word on particular topics.

    Broc recounts the evolution of the Euro- pean world view from the fifteenth-century reprintings of Ptolemy's Geography through the voyages of the Renaissance and the literature and maps that they spawned. There is heavy, but not undue, emphasis on cartography because, as the author says, ". . c'est par la carte . . . que les grands problemes geographiques de temps trou- vent leur meilleure expression" (p. 173). The book ends with a discussion of the surprisingly meager effects of the voyages on Renaissance fiction and art. The author has marshaled the facts with grace and precision (except for confusing Calicut and

    Calcutta on p. 208), but the specialist will not end his search with this book.

    G. S. DUNBAR

    Dorothy Koenigsberger. Renaissance Man and Creative Thinking: A History of Con- cepts of Harmony, 1400-1700. xiii + 282 pp., bibl., index. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1979. $25.

    The principal subjects in whom Dorothy Koenigsberger studies her themes of har- mony and analogy - Nicholas of Cusa, Leon Battista Alberti, and Leonardo da Vinci-are all of interest to historians of science. Despite its title, the book is not "a conceptual monograph about analogy" but an effort to "throw some real light upon the creative imagination" (p. 6). Thus the author begins without fussing over such de- tails as might arise in distinguishing analogy from homology, metaphor, congruity, pro- portion, and related terms; yet the dis- cussion soon moves to the epistemological foundations of Alberti's aesthetics, a prob- lem so inescapably philosophical that one begins to question Koenigsberger's readi- ness to dispense with the terminological precision characteristic of philosophical dis- course. There are many good roads to the study of ideas, but none bypasses clarity, precision, and hard evidence, as Koenigs- berger does both in delineating her con- cepts of harmony and in asserting bonds of influence among those who held them. Her case for the familiar claim that Alberti and Leonardo were inspired by Cusanus rests on no solid textual evidence, and the evasive language in which she characterizes that influence only deepens one's suspicions, for example: "influence ... of orienta- tion," "a kind of philosophical posture," "passages . . . evocative" (pp. 102, 115). Older and broader lines of influence are also poorly established. There is liftle in- dication that the author understands the extraordinary diversity and complexity en- compassed by the terms Platonism and Neoplatonism, and yet she tries to make some variant of Platonic thought a major vehicle for her analogies and harmonies.

    The chief point of Koenigsberger's first chapter is to make Alberti a special kind of Christian Platonist on the basis of his lo- cating in man an innata . . . ratio, but her analysis remains muddled in failing to make the crucial distinction between innate facul-

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    Article Contentsp.319

    Issue Table of ContentsIsis, Vol. 72, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), pp. 157-336Front Matter [pp.157-161]Nature's Fancy: Charles Darwin and the Breeding of Pigeons [pp.163-186]Of Gods and Kings: Natural Philosophy and Politics in the Leibniz-Clarke Disputes [pp.187-215]The Hunting of the Quark [pp.216-236]Documents & TranslationsThe Hebrew Astronomical Tradition: New Sources [pp.237-251]

    Notes & CorrespondenceThe Anthropology of Charles Caldwell, M.D. [pp.252-256]

    News of the ProfessionAnnual Meeting of the History of Science Society. 17-19 October 1980 [pp.257-262]The Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Information Processing (CBI) [pp.262-264]loge: Joseph Mogenet, 26 February 1913-18 February 1980 [pp.265-266]

    Retrospective ReviewCritical Problems in the History of Science [pp.267-283]

    Book ReviewsHistory of Scienceuntitled [pp.284-286]untitled [pp.286-287]untitled [pp.287-288]

    Bibliographical Toolsuntitled [pp.288-289]untitled [p.289]untitled [pp.289-290]

    Philosophy of Scienceuntitled [pp.290-291]untitled [pp.291-292]

    Scientific Institutionsuntitled [pp.292-293]untitled [pp.293-294]

    Scientific Instrumentsuntitled [p.294]untitled [pp.294-295]untitled [p.295]untitled [pp.295-296]

    Social Relations of Scienceuntitled [pp.296-297]untitled [pp.297-298]untitled [pp.298-299]untitled [pp.299-300]untitled [p.300]untitled [pp.300-301]

    Mathematicsuntitled [pp.301-302]untitled [pp.302-303]

    Physical Sciencesuntitled [p.303]

    Earth Sciencesuntitled [pp.303-304]untitled [pp.304-305]

    Biological Sciencesuntitled [pp.305-306]untitled [pp.306-307]untitled [pp.307-308]

    Social Sciencesuntitled [pp.308-309]

    Medical Sciencesuntitled [p.309]untitled [pp.309-310]

    Technologyuntitled [pp.310-311]untitled [pp.311-312]untitled [p.312]untitled [pp.312-313]

    Classical Antiquityuntitled [pp.313-314]untitled [p.314]

    Middle Agesuntitled [pp.314-315]untitled [pp.315-316]untitled [pp.316-317]

    Islamic Culturesuntitled [p.317]

    The Far Eastuntitled [pp.317-318]untitled [p.318]

    Renaissance & Reformationuntitled [p.319]untitled [pp.319-320]

    Seventeenth & Eighteenth Centuriesuntitled [pp.320-321]untitled [p.321]untitled [pp.321-322]untitled [pp.322-323]

    Nineteenth Centuryuntitled [pp.323-324]untitled [p.324]untitled [pp.324-325]untitled [p.325]untitled [pp.325-327]untitled [pp.327-328]

    Twentieth Centuryuntitled [pp.328-329]untitled [pp.329-330]untitled [p.330]untitled [pp.330-331]

    Contemporary Sciencesuntitled [p.331]

    Back Matter [pp.332-336]