The Historian's Craft by Marc Bloch

By Marc Bloch

This ebook is his (Marc Bloch) testomony as a historian - a considerate, sincere assertion via an outstanding craftsman concerning the rules of his exchange. right here he expressed his goals, which have been these of such a lot historians of his personal and more youthful generations. right here he set forth his conviction of hte cohesion of all heritage and of the dwelling connection among current and previous which makes heritage whatever greater than a online game for dilettantes.

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Later, about 1 &}c, saturated with the aura of a rather primitive positivism, the methodolo­ gists were indignant that the public should attach an excessive importance to what they called "form" in his­ torical works. Art versus science, form versus matter: the history of scholarsh ip abounds with such fine de­ bates! There is no less beauty in a precise equation than in a felicitous phrase, but each science has its a� propriate resthetics of language. Hum an actions are essentially very delicate phen omena , many aspects of which elude mathemathical measurement.

Let us also beware of the inclination, which I have detected in some, to be ashamed of this poetic quality. It would be sheer folly to suppose that history, because it appeals strongly to the emotions, is lesi capable of satisfying the intellect. Nevertheless, were the nearly universal fasc ination of his tory its only justification-if it were, in short, only a pleasant pastime, like bridge or fishing-would it be worth all the trouble we take to write it? To write 9 Introductitm it, I mean, with integrity, with truth, with the utmost possible penetration into its hidden causes, and, hence, with difficulty?

Its beginning was relatively recent, and its end overlaps our own day. Nothing in it­ neither its outstanding social and political character­ istics, nor its physical equipment, nor its cultural tone -presents any important contrasts with our own world. It appears, in a word, to assume a very marked degree of "contemporaneousness" with us. And, from this, it derives the virtue or defect of being distinct from the rest of the past. A high-school teacher, who was very old when I was very young, once told us: "Since 1830, there has been no more history.

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