A highly original and accessible history of Latin between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries that explores how Latin came to dominate the civic and sacred worlds of Europe and, arguably, the entire western world.
About the Author
Françoise Waquet is a director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. Among her books are Latin, and in French, Les fêtes royales sous la Restauration ou l’Ancien Régime retrouvé and La République des Lettres (with Hans Bots).
“Waquet’s wonderful, readable book (in Howe’s fine translation) provides an intellectual history of the Latin language ... Waquet memorably charts Latin’s reception in scholarly, comic, tender, and exhaustive detail through learned literary, and popular sources.”—Choice
“... an erudite, fascinating cultural history of the Latin language in the modern era. A scholarly work, this will nonetheless appeal to general readers as well.”—History
“... an eloquent obituary ...”—Spectator
“... [a] fascinating and lively survey of the place of Latin in western culture during the past 400 years.”—Independent
“It is a wonderful survey of the uses to which we have put Latin.”—A. N. Wilson
“... richly researched and delightful ... with scholars of Waquet’s generosity and ability, the old language might yet have a future.”—New Criterion
“Latin is dead and this book is its epitaph. A fulsome, plangent, finely engraved epitaph but an epitaph all the same ... it is the merit and interest of Waquet’s survey that she finds Latin not only deployed for the liturgy, but also to describe things carnal, pornographic or otherwise shameful.”—Daily Telegraph
“... the book is valuable if for no other reason than for the historical light it sheds on contemporary debates over the value of ‘traditional’ education—and for reminding us that a classical education is sometimes more about class than about education.”—Washington Times
“... a splendid book: original in method, suggestive in argument, and a pleasure to read.”—London Review of Books
“And for something differently serious, read part of Europe’s future in part of its past: the fascinating Latin: or the Empire of the Sign.”—A. C. Grayling, Guardian, Summer Choice 2002
“... detailed and wide-ranging ...”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“... a lucid, learned retelling of the fortunes of the Latin language from the 16th century to its rapid decline in the 1960s.”—Telegraph Books of the Year 2001