Historians of Modern Europe

By Hans A. Schmitt | Go to book overview

ARNOLD J. TOYNBEE
The Paradox of Prophecy

EDWARD WHITING FOX Cornell University

I N THE INTRODUCTION to his Reconsiderations, Mr. Arnold J. Toynbee sums up the vast accumulation of criticism of his Study of History as two charges; first, that he forced his facts to fit his theories, and second, that he abandoned scholarship for prophecy. To answering the first he devotes the rest of this remarkable volume, dealing exhaustively with virtually every scholarly comment on his work that has appeared in print. To the second, however, he merely replies that the next most awkward thing to saying "I think I am a prophet," is to say "I really don't think I am one." The evasion is so deft that the unwary reader might easily miss the fact that Toynbee has not only denied the charge, by implication, but has sidestepped the entire issue.

This is a curious and unfortunate course for him to follow. It is curious because on all subjects save this, he has not only welcomed criticism but eagerly sought to profit from it. It is also curious because he has repeatedly expressed the greatest admiration and reverence for the original prophets. Finally, it is unfortunate because this evasive denial rejects what would appear to be the essential thesis and ultimate purpose of his work. If his long and scrupulous explanation of his motives in undertaking the Study establishes anything, it is that he set out to restore meaning as the main goal of historical endeavor. That he believes he has succeeded and that the meaning he has discovered is fraught with urgent significance for all, he has hardly kept a secret. Instead, he has clearly accepted the responsibility, as a historian, not merely to discover but to urge on his fellow mortals the lessons of the past. And what

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Historians of Modern Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction vii
  • Contents xix
  • Part One - Anglo-American Perspectives 3
  • Arnold J. Toynbee - The Paradox of Prophecy 5
  • Carlton J. H. Hayes 15
  • Oscar Halecki 36
  • Hans Kohn - Historian of Nationalism 62
  • A. J. P. Taylor 78
  • J. L. Hammond 95
  • Part Two - Continental Perspectives 121
  • Adolfo Omodeo - Historian of the "Religion of Freedom" 123
  • Gerhard Ritter 151
  • Gaetano Salvemini: - Meridionalista 206
  • Ernest Labrousse 235
  • Federico Chabod - Portrait of a Master Historian 255
  • The France of M. Chastenet 291
  • Gioacchino Volpe 315
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