Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe

by Hayden White

Paperback(Fortieth Anniversary Edition)

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Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe by Hayden White

Since its initial publication in 1973, Hayden White’s Metahistory has remained an essential book for understanding the nature of historical writing. In this classic work, White argues that a deep structural content lies beyond the surface level of historical texts. This latent poetic and linguistic content—which White dubs the "metahistorical element"—essentially serves as a paradigm for what an "appropriate" historical explanation should be.

To support his thesis, White analyzes the complex writing styles of historians like Michelet, Ranke, Tocqueville, and Burckhardt, and philosophers of history such as Marx, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Croce. The first work in the history of historiography to concentrate on historical writing as writing, Metahistory sets out to deprive history of its status as a bedrock of factual truth, to redeem narrative as the substance of historicality, and to identify the extent to which any distinction between history and ideology on the basis of the presumed scientificity of the former is spurious.

This fortieth-anniversary edition includes a new preface in which White explains his motivation for writing Metahistory and discusses how reactions to the book informed his later writing. In a new foreword, Michael S. Roth, a former student of White’s and the current president of Wesleyan University, reflects on the significance of the book across a broad range of fields, including history, literary theory, and philosophy. This book will be of interest to anyone—in any discipline—who takes the past as a serious object of study.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421415604
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 11/10/2014
Edition description: Fortieth Anniversary Edition
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 418,088
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Hayden White is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, professor emeritus of comparative literature at Stanford University, and professor emeritus of the history of consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of a number of books published by Johns Hopkins, including Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism, The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation, and Figural Realism: Studies in the Mimesis Effect.

Table of Contents

Foreword, "All You've Got Is History," Michael S. Roth ix

Preface to the Fortieth-Anniversary Edition xxv

Preface xxix

Introduction. The Poetics of History 1

Part 1 The Received Tradition: The Enlightenment and the Problem of Historical Consciousness

1 The Historical Imagination between Metaphor and Irony 45

2 Hegel: The Poetics of History and the Way beyond Irony 81

Part 2 Four Kinds of "Realism" in Nineteenth-Century Historical Writing

3 Micheiet: Historical Realism as Romance 135

4 Ranke: Historical Realism as Comedy 163

5 Tocqueville: Historical Realism as Tragedy 191

6 Burckhardt: Historical Realism as Satire 230

Part 3 The Repudiation of "Realism" in Late Nineteenth-Century Philosophy of History

7 Historical Consciousness and the Rebirth of Philosophy of History 267

8 Marx: The Philosophical Defense of History in the Mctonymical Mode 281

9 Nietzsche: The Poetic Defense of History in the Metaphorical Mode 331

10 Croce: The Philosophical Defense of History in the Ironic Mode 376

Conclusion 427

Bibliography 437

Index 443

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