Reappraisals in History

Reappraisals in History

Reappraisals in History

Reappraisals in History

Excerpt

Reappraisal in history does not necessarily result in dissent from the views reappraised; but in fact most of the reappraisals in this book are of the dissenting kind. One should not have to point out that dissent from another historian's views does not imply personal animus toward him or contempt for his abilities. Indeed, reappraisal of the views of a historian whose efforts one regards as contemptible is hardly worth the trouble. Specifically, as to the historians whose work is reappraised in this book, I hold my seniors among them in very high respect; and my contemporaries among them I hold both in sincere esteem and in warm affection.

I have not tried to bring all the footnotes up to date; but where a recent work seemed to bear specifically on the main thesis of one of the essays that work has received mention. The exception to the rule is Storm Over the Gentry, to which is appended an up-to-date bibliography. The storm has perhaps somewhat abated since that essay first appeared, but a gentle drizzle of studies more or less germane has continued to fall; and it is only too likely that my bibliographical appendix has failed to note one or two of them. To their authors, my apologies. Circumstances have prevented my retracing a few lost references in The Myth of the Middle Class in Tudor England. For this, my apologies to the reader.

The rejection of their early efforts sometimes unduly discourages young historians. They may perhaps be raised from unwarranted despair by the contents of this book and by its publication. Three of the essays in it were rejected by scholarly journals in good standing--The Myth of the Middle Class in Tudor England by the Journal of Economic History, The Historian and His Day and Storm Over the Gentry by the American Historical Review. All of the rejections came when the author was over forty. A letter of rejection is not a divine decree; it is neither an immutable nor an eternal judgment, but the decision of one or two fallible men, subject to reversal by other men equally fallible. So let young historians take heart; and in this matter may all historians be young at heart.

St. Louis, January 1961 . . .

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