January 9th, 2011 § 0 comments

Charming introduction to Theodore Zeldin’s books of French history:

Zeldin’s approach can be understood as a kind of historical ethnography, while Todd’s approach emphasizes processes and structures of nation formation.

What’s striking is how out-of-place Zeldin’s work must be in contemporary academic history — but equally, how it’s the kind of history people really want to write, and to read. I’m becoming increasingly sympathetic to the idea of some kind of revival of 19th century humanities, with the diligence and the emotional involvement. I’m not sure if you can manage that without the racism and shallowness — though is it really better to have your prejudices concealed behind dull prose and academic walls?

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