"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, November 1, 2013

History and Nationalism

Anyone who knows anything about the decline of the Ottoman empire and the rise of modern Orthodox nation-states in central, southern, and eastern Europe, knows how much of that history is bound up with the rise of modern nationalism, often traced, in part, to French influence. Monika Baar has just edited a newly published collection that picks up the story from here: Historians and Nationalism: East-Central Europe in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford UP, 2013), 352pp.

About this book we are told:

Peripheral cultures have been largely absent from the European canon of historiography. Seeking to redress the balance, Monika Baar discusses the achievements of five East-Central European historians in the nineteenth century: Joachim Lelewel (Polish); Simonas Daukantas (Lithuanian); Frantisek Palacky (Czech); Mihaly Horvath (Hungarian) and Mihail Kogalniceanu (Romanian). Comparing their efforts to promote a unified vision of national culture in their respective countries, Baar illuminates the complexities of historical writing in the region in the nineteenth century.

Drawing on previously untranslated documents, Baar reconstructs the scholars' shared intellectual background and their nationalistic aims, arguing that historians on the European periphery made significant contributions to historical writing, and had far more in common with their Western and Central European contemporaries than has been previously assumed.

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