Modern Historiography: An Introduction by Michael Bentley

By Michael Bentley

Modern Historiography is the fundamental creation to the historical past of old writing. It explains the large philosophical history to the several historians and ancient colleges of the fashionable period, from James Boswell and Thomas Carlyle via to Lucien Febure and Eric Hobsbawm and surveys:
<UL> • the Enlightenment and Counter Enlightenment
• Romanticism
• the voice of technology and the method of secularization inside of Western highbrow thought
• the impression of, and broadening touch with, the recent World
• the Annales college in France
• Postmodernism.
Modern Historiography offers a transparent and concise account of this contemporary interval of historic writing.

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32 MODERN HISTORIOGRAPHY positions and maintaining an active political life while writing his tenvolume History of the United States. Like Macaulay he was a Whig, though one understood in its American sense; he later became a Democrat. His dovetailing into the emerging American state went quite as far as Macaulay’s into the British. He played a role in nominating Polk for the presidency. He served as Polk’s Secretary of the Navy in 1845–6, the year before Macaulay joined Russell’s government. Then Polk made him ambassador to Britain, so he met Macaulay and Milman and Hallam and other celebrated figures in the British historical establishment.

For a recent philosophical treatment, see Ricœur 1984–8. MODERN HISTORIOGRAPHY 41 attracted a battery of modern criticism and exegesis because of that reflection, so we can gain closer access to him than would be possible for others. He manifests, most importantly, his generation’s ambiguities about thought and method. Where those ambiguities disappear, he loses them in God. He places events under God’s hand and sees in their tendency God’s moving finger. In that respect he points not forwards but backwards.

29 30 MODERN HISTORIOGRAPHY The Führerprinzip of his later years did nothing to help Carlyle’s popularity, especially in his encomium on Frederick the Great who, for all his undoubted success, looked neither like an 1848 revolutionary nor an 1858 Palmerstonian. To many it appears certain there are to be no Kings of any sort, no Government more; less and less need of them henceforth, New Era having come. Which is a very wonderful notion; important if true; perhaps still more important, just at present, if untrue!

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