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Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  196 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
In White's view, beyond the surface level of the historical text, there is a deep structural, or latent, content that is generally poetic and specifically linguistic in nature. This deeper content - the metahistorical element - indicates what an appropriate historical explanation might be.

In pursuing his thesis, White provides a book that will be of interest to philosopher
Paperback, 464 pages
Published August 1st 1975 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published November 1st 1973)
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Jul 26, 2010 Kersplebedeb rated it really liked it
Shelves: historiography
This was a difficult book for me to get through - never read literary theory, and have not read much historiography, and they both give me headaches. My tactic was to drink lots of red wine as i read, but while enjoyable that tactic failed. The book was started, stopped, re-started, etc. throughout the spring, then finally i took the plunge and headed out further than the first chapters, further than i'd ever gone before...

The chapter on Hegel is like a mental firewall, real difficult to get thr
Max Nemtsov
May 09, 2014 Max Nemtsov rated it it was amazing
Очень опасная книга - для нынешнего времени на здешних территориях. Я бы запретил - ну, чтобы все сразу кинулись ее читать.

Хейден Уайт наглядно показывает, до чего произвольны любые проекции истории на мозг современного человека, а собственно историку дает необходимый (но не исчерпывающий) ассортимент инструментов создания исторического нарратива, эдакую матрицу интерпретации "фактов", "событий", "процессов" и "документов". Выбирай не хочу - и валяй твори собственную, по сути, историю. Не удивлю
Dec 29, 2015 Caracalla rated it it was amazing
A fascinating book. I gave it a fairly cursory read for some essay research but I think I will have to give it a more thorough reading sometime in the future. It basically argues that historiography produces tropologically constituted representations of the past, not methodologically justified true accounts. These representations are not distinguished by their accuracy or truth but by the narrative modes and forms that are used and the way relations between historical objects are conceived inclu ...more
Mark Bowles
Aug 30, 2014 Mark Bowles rated it really liked it
Three levels by which historians provide explanation.
* Mode of Emplotment: Provides the meaning of the story by identifying the kind of story that it is. Plot structure
* Romantic: transcendence of the world experience, victory over it and his final liberation from it (Phillips)
* Tragic: No festive occasions except false or illusory ones. There is a fall of the protagonist and a gain in consciousness.
* Comic: Hope is held out for the temporary triumph of man over his world by the occasional reco
Jan 10, 2015 Anya rated it really liked it
I feel guilty giving this a four, because I feel it deserves a five (or even six). this book is "my cup of tea," a serious study on historiography that allows the reader to appreciate just how brilliant the philosophers and historians of the 19th century were.
Unfortunately, while the literary grounding of this work is crucial, it makes this book a frustrating read. White is systematic in his analysis, often describing things in literary terms while simultaneously providing a summary of his concl
Apr 29, 2014 Miss rated it liked it
I must admit that I found this book really confusing and it took me quite a while to get through it. The basic idea is interesing, the linguistic, narrative and poetic nature of history. The apparatus White is using is confusing at times and I don't think his theoretical world corresponds to the actual analysis he is doing of the historical and philosophical texts. I expected a structuralist, linguistic examination of parts of texts but in the end his analysis is about the different ways of real ...more
Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe is not a work for the casual reader. Hayden White's opus requires some commitment and some work. It is lengthy and there is a lot of jargon to wade through. While jargon in a work of history often seems to substitute for original or even simply interesting thought, White's project is complex enough that the jargon is warranted. It effectively becomes shorthand for very complicated ideas so that the reader can follow White has h ...more
Jul 29, 2009 Alex rated it it was amazing
Studies of the 'poetic elements' of history - writing by the master historians / philosophers of history of the 19th c. Compelling readings of Hegel, Michelet, Tocqueville, Ranke, Burkhardt, Marx, Nietzsche, and Croce. Plus other nineteenth century wackos too.

White likes to play with an oddball four-square structuralism: four tropes (metaphor, metonym, synecdoche, irony), four emplotments (romance, comedy, tragedy, satire), four explanatory strategies (formalist, mechanistic, organismic, context
Mar 30, 2014 Timothy added it
Shelves: dissertation
Second go round on this behemoth. Not in the least interested in the 'deep structure' White 'digs up', (corpses don't scare me anymore) but I am interested in what he has to say about Ranke, Burkhardt, and how they approach history/historiography in a more genetic sense. Even after finishing introduction again it strikes me how at odds many of White's listed conclusions are with his structuralist/foundationalist methodology. While the conclusions seem reasonable the path to them is just w ...more
John Bawden
Dec 01, 2012 John Bawden rated it really liked it
Very interesting stuff. Critical analysis of the way historical narratives depend on structuring devices, the historian's view of change (ideological implication), when the narrative begins/ends, why all of this stuff matters for the discipline.
Sometimes the details were a bit baffling. I'm not a professional historian. But the gist of it, the emplotment of history idea, was really useful and fascinating.
Mar 29, 2009 Joseph rated it it was ok
An important guide to the critical thought of many great philosophers of hiszzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .
Ryan Chamberlain
Read the first section, really good insight into Historiography.
Klay Kubiak
Nov 07, 2011 Klay Kubiak rated it it was amazing
will possibly change the way you understand the world.
Jan 11, 2010 Michael rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Historic Societies
It seems like Hayden White always comes up in my conquest/colonial classes and for good reason. Even though he's a bit of a formalist, I like White's clarity of thought. I guess you could call me a White sympathizer.
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Hayden White (born 1928) is a historian in the tradition of literary criticism, perhaps most famous for his work Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1973). He is currently professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and he recently retired his position of professor of comparative literature at Stanford University.

White received his B.A. from Wa
More about Hayden White...

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“The closest that either Voltaire or the other historical geniuses of the age -- Hume and Gibbon -- came to understanding unreason's creative potentialities was in their Ironic criticism of themselves and in their own efforts to make sense out of history. This, at least, led them to view themselves as being as potentially flawed as the cripples they conceived to be acting out the spectacle of history.” 4 likes
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