A Study of History

By Arnold J. Toynbee; D. C. Somervell | Go to book overview

NOTE
BY THE EDITOR OF THE ABRIDGEMENT

MR. TOYNBEE'S Study of History presents a single continuous argument as to the nature and pattern of the historical experience of the human race since the first appearance of the species of societies called civilizations, and that argument is illustrated and, so far as the nature of the material allows, 'proved' at every stage by a diversity of illustrations drawn from the whole length and breadth of human history, so far as human history is known to the historians of our day. Some of these illustrations are worked out in great detail. That being the nature of the book, the task of the editor of an abridgement is in essentials perfectly simple, namely to preserve the argument intact, though in an abbreviated statement, and to reduce in some degree the number of illustrations and, in a much greater degree, the detail of their exposition.

I think that this volume makes an adequate presentation of Mr. Toynbee's philosophy of history in so far as it is set forth in the six published volumes of his yet unfinished work. If it did not do so Mr. Toynbee would obviously not have approved its publication. But I should be very sorry if it came to be regarded as an entirely satisfactory substitute for the original work. For 'business purposes' it is perhaps an adequate substitute: for pleasure surely not; for a large part of the charm of the original resides in the leisured amplitude of its illustrations. Only the big book, one feels, is aesthetically worthy of the bigness of its subject. I have been able to use to such a very large extent the actual sentences and paragraphs of the original that I have no fear that this abridgement will be found dull, but I am equally certain that the original will be found much more entrancing.

I made this abridgement for my own amusement, without Mr. Toynbee's knowledge and without any idea of publication. It seemed to me an agreeable way of passing the time. Only when it was finished did I tell Mr. Toynbee of its existence and place it at his disposal if at any time he cared to make any use of it. Such being its origin I allowed myself occasionally to interpolate a little illustration of my own not found in the original work. After all, it is written 'Thou shalt not muzzle the ox which treadeth out his master's corn'. These intrusions of mine are small in extent and smaller in importance. As the whole of my manuscript has been carefully revised by Mr. Toynbee and they have received his imprimatur along with all the rest, there is no need to indicate them

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A Study of History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • A Study of History *
  • Plan of the Book *
  • Preface *
  • Note by the Editor of the Abridgement *
  • Table of Contents *
  • I- Introduction *
  • I. the Unit of Historical Study *
  • Ii. the Comparative Study of Civilizations *
  • Iii. the Comparability of Societies *
  • II- The Geneses of Civilizations *
  • Iv. the Problem and How Not to Solve It *
  • V. Challenge and Response *
  • Vi. the Virtues of Adversity *
  • Vii. the Challenge of the Environment *
  • Viii. the Golden Mean *
  • III- The Growths of Civilizations *
  • Ix. the Arrested Civilizations *
  • X. the Nature of the Growths of Civilizations *
  • Xi. an Analysis of Growth *
  • Xii. Differentiation through Growth *
  • IV- The Breakdowns of Civilizations *
  • Xiii. the Nature of the Problem *
  • Xiv. Deterministic Solutions *
  • Xv. Loss of Command over the Environment *
  • Xvi. Failure of Self-Determination *
  • V- The Disintegrations of Civilizations *
  • Xvii. the Nature of Disintegration *
  • Xviii. Schism in the Body Social *
  • Xix. Schism in the Soul *
  • Xx. the Relation between Disintegrating Societies and Individuals *
  • Xxi. the Rhythm of Disintegration *
  • Xxii. Standardization through Disintegration *
  • Editor''s Note *
  • Argument *
  • Index *
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