A Liberal Descent: Victorian historians and the English past

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Overview

The idea of a 'Whig interpretation' of English history incorporates the two fundamental notions of progress and continuity. The former made it possible to read English history as a 'success story', the latter endorsed a pragmatic, gradualist political style as the foundation of English freedom. Dr Burrow's book explore these ideas, and the tensions between them in studies of four major Victorian historians: Macaulay, Stubbs, Freeman and (as something of an anti type) Froude. It analyses their works in terms of their rhetorical suggestiveness as well as their explicit arguments, and attempts to place them in their cultural and historiographical context. In doing so, the book also seeks to establish the significance for the Victorians of three great crises of English history - the Norman conquest, the reformation and the revolution of the seventeenth century - and the nature and limits of the self-confidence they were able to derive from the national past. The book will interest students and teachers working on nineteenth-century English history, literature or social and political thought, the history of ideas, and legal and constitutional history. It will also be of value to the general reader interested in Victorian literature and cultural history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Review of the hardback: '...a subtle, witty and graceful analysis of the attitude of various nineteenth century historians to key episodes in English history.' J. P. Kenyon, The Observer

Review of the hardback: '...a rich book, combining sharp understanding with scholarship and natural and engaging wit...one of the most stimulating an engaging books written on historiography for many years' The Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521274821
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/1983
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; Part I: The whig; 2. A heritage and its history; 3. Macaulay: progress and piety; 4. Macaulay's res publica; Part II: The tory; 5. The German inheritance: a people and its institutions; 6. Autonomy and self-realisation: Stubbs' constitutional history; Part III: The democrat; 7. Teutonic freedom and municipal independence; 8. Conquest, continuity and restoration; Part IV: The imperialist; 9. 'Something strange and isolates': Froude and the sixteenth century; 10 The spirit's trials: Reformation and renewal; 11. Postscript.

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