"I am a Jew who was born and who grew up in a Catholic country; I never had a religious education; my Jewish identity is in large measure the result of persecution." This brief autobiographical statement is a key to understanding Carlo Ginzburg's interest in the topic of his latest book: distance. In nine linked essays he addresses the question "What is the exact distance that permits us to see things as they are?" To understand our world, suggests Ginzburg, it is necessary to find a balance between being so close to the object that our vision is warped by familiarity or so far from it that the distance becomes distorting. Starting from the concept of distance/proximity Ginzburg explores themes of perspective, representation, imagery and myth with an impressive array of examples, from Tacitus and the Bible, to Proust, Hume and Valery. Touching on philosophy, history, philology, and ethics, and including examples from present day popular culture, Wooden Eyes offers a new perspective on the universally relevant theme of distance.
Carlo Ginzburg was born in Turin and now teaches at UCLA. He is one of Italy's leading historians and achieved a worldwide reputation with his book The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of the Sixteenth Century Miller.