Academic journal article Kritika

"The Encounter between Personal Commitment and Scholarly Curiosity": A Reappreciation of Sergei Fedorovich Platonov's Ocherki Po Istorii Smuty

Academic journal article Kritika

"The Encounter between Personal Commitment and Scholarly Curiosity": A Reappreciation of Sergei Fedorovich Platonov's Ocherki Po Istorii Smuty

Article excerpt

To a question he himself posed--"Why read the great nineteenth-century historians?"--the Harvard historian John Clive attempted a "short answer," which actually turned out to be longish:

   Because they wrote well; because they may be said to have
   reinterpreted aspects of the past in fundamental ways; because they
   saw themselves as prophets as well as historians, firmly believing
   that their role carried with it the obligation to say what they

   thought about the society and politics of the present and the
   future as well as of the past; because they usually said this with
   a confidence made evident in the cadence of their prose; because,
   along with the specific view of that segment of the past with which
   each of them was concerned, they also communicated a general view
   of the world. (1)

To this list, Clive mustered yet one more justification for reading (and rereading) the "great historians": "there is at least one other, and unique, reward to be gained from the great historians," he wrote, "and that consists of being witness to their pioneering efforts to expand both the scope of historical knowledge and the means used to obtain it. …

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