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Anthony Esolen

Professor Anthony Esolen teaches Renaissance English Literature and the Development of Western Civilization at Providence College. He writes regularly for Touchstone, Crisis, The Catholic Thing, Catholic World Report, Front Porch Republic, Public Discourse, and Magnificat. His most recent books are Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Press, 2010), The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008) and Ironies of Faith (ISI Press, 2007); his Commentary on the Roman Missal is now available from Magnificat Press. Professor Esolen is the translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy (3 volumes, Random House), Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered (Johns Hopkins University Press), and Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things (Johns Hopkins University Press). Professor Esolen is available as time permits for speaking engagements (September through early May in the US). With his family, he spends summers in Nova Scotia, where he enjoys picking berries, studying dead (or nearly dead) languages, and roofing the barn.
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VIDEO: In Defense of the Middle Ages

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 - by Anthony Esolen

What would we call a time of unsurpassed cultural invention? When teachers and students came together and founded the university? When poets, painters, and sculptors produced works of art utterly unlike any that had been made before?  When risk-taking merchants established international trade and banking? When chartered towns flourished under home rule, and kings were closer to governors or even mayors than to presidents or prime ministers now?

When ordinary artisans erected the most beautiful structures upon earth? When the glorious twelve-tone scale came into being, and the foundations were laid for Bach and Beethoven? When for three hundred years Europe was warmer than now, and harvests were bountiful, and grapes grew on the English hillsides?

When women enjoyed more freedom and social influence than they would again until the Industrial Revolution?  When celebrations were filled with color, and both sin and repentance were brave? When popular drama swept across a continent after more than a thousand years of slumber? When Thomas Aquinas addressed every question a man could ask, and Francis preached in saintly simplicity?

We’d call them the Brilliant Ages – and that’s what the high Middle Ages were.

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