The Cheese and the Worms

I have recently read the book by the Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg titled The Cheese and the Worms. This work narrates the story of Domenico Scandella, called Menocchio, a Friulan miller who was condemned to death by the Holy Inquisition in the sixteenth century.

The book is really useful for people who are interested in historical studies because the author, while talking about the particular life of Menocchio, describes the society of his time bringing to light features and problems of the past and the ideas that were circulating in the pre-industrial society, such as the role of the Church or the relationship between oral and written culture.

I consider really important to say something about the title chosen by Ginzburg. The “cheese” and the “worms” are words that Menocchio uses to describe his cosmological idea: «I have said that, in my opinion, all was chaos, that is, earth, air, water, and fire were mixed together; and out of that bulk a mass formed – just as cheese is made out of milk – and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels».

Giovanni Covino


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