The Cheese and the Worms

by Carlo Ginzburg. Johns Hopkins, $14.00. Working with trial documents of the Italian Inquisition, Mr. Ginzburg has reconstructed the beliefs of a small-town miller who was burned as a heretic in the late sixteenth century. By Catholic standards, he certainly was a heretic. His beliefs were a mixture of dilute Protestantism, straightforward anticlericalism, incipient socialism, lingering paganism, and what appear to have been the personal idiosyncrasies of an intelligent but unselective reader. Even more interesting than Scandella’s notions, as the historian ferrets out their origins and connections, is the evidence that this miller was merely one individual in a considerable network of disaffected free-thinkers extending across all social classes. Translated by John and Anne Tedeschi. Notes, index.