Medieval people traced the multiplicity of languages back to the story in Genesis of the tower of Babel, built by humans. God punished their arrogance by scattering them to the four winds so that each could not understand the language of his neighbour. From the sons of Noah were descended 72 peoples with 72 languages.
In the Middle Ages a series of Old French knightly-spoken poems known as chansons de geste, devoted to the subject of crusades, took shape in the north of France.
In the wake of the 1909 centenary celebrations of his birth the New York Times detected a changing mood that made it ‘probable’ that Charles Darwin’s ‘fame’ had ‘reached its acme’. Three years after his bicentennial – ‘history’s biggest birthday party’ as Steven Shapin described it – no one is making similar predictions of an imminent decline of interest in Darwin.
Thomas Jefferson was a man who reflected Enlightenment attitudes. This simple statement has formed the premise of much Jefferson scholarship in recent decades, and in particular historians have made an effort to connect Jefferson with the Enlightenment in Britain, especially in its Scottish manifestation.
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) claims an exceptional place in history as a famous scientist, theosopher and visionary.
The liberal enlightenment idea of progress has promised many benefits over the past 300 years. Liberal progress, we have been told, would provide cures for diseases, remedies for ignorance, alternatives to superstition, and antidotes to poverty. Nothing however has raised higher expectations than liberalism’s claim that it could put an end to war.
Child of the Enlightenment is a captivating book: charming, moving, and richly informative, it melds the intimate and distant, weaving together bodies, emotions and minds, Enlightenment ideas and philosophy, and revolutionary politics.
‘I wish I knew a history was a history,’ remarks Gertrude Stein in A Geographical History of America.
Theodore Ziolkowski has been writing in the fields of German literature (especially Hermann Hesse) and comparative literature for some 50 years. One of his abiding interests has been an examination of what happens to the mythology, themes and plots embedded in works of ancient literature when modern writers and other artists encounter them.
The study of nationality (a term used to designate historically and constitutively diverse nations) poses a number of acute methodological, historical, and philosophical problems.