Giving: Charity and Philanthropy in History

1st Edition

Robert H. Bremner

Routledge
Published January 30, 1994
Reference - 250 Pages
ISBN 9781560008842 - CAT# Y332945

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Summary

"According to Greek mythology mankind's first benefactor was the Titan, Prometheus, who gave fire, previously the exclusive possession of the gods, to mortal man." With these words the esteemed scholar Robert Bremner presents the first full-fledged history of attitudes toward charity and philanthropy. 'Giving' is a perfect complement to his earlier work The Discovery of Poverty in the United States. The word 'philanthropy' has been translated in a variety of ways: as a loving human disposition, loving kindness, love of mankind, charity, fostering mortal man, championing mankind, and helping people. Bremner's book covers all of these meanings in rich detail. Bremner describes the ancient world and classical attitudes toward giving and begging; Middle Ages and early modern times, emphasizing hospitals and patients and donors and attributes of charity; the eighteenth century and the age of benevolence; the nineteenth century and the growth of the concept of public relief and social policy; and a careful multiple chapter review of the twentieth century. Bremner reviews the act of giving in such comparative contexts as London, England and Kasrilevke, Russia with such figures as Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens, and Sholem Aleichem, as well as the more familiar wealthy industrialist/philanthropists, forming part of the narrative. The final chapters bring the story up to date, discussing the relationships of modem philanthropy and organized charity, and the uses of philanthropy in education and the arts. Bremner has an astonishing knowledge of the cultural context and the economic contents of philanthropy. As a result, this volume is intriguing as well as important history, written with lively style and wit. Whether the reader is a professional in the so-called "third stream" or "independent sector," or simply a citizen wondering just what the act of giving and the spirit of receiving is all about, 'Giving' will be compelling reading.

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