Faces of History

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Historical Inquiry from Herodotus to Herder

Donald R. Kelley

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In this book, one of the world’s leading intellectual historians offers a critical survey of Western historical thought and writing from the pre-classical era to the late eighteenth century. Donald R. Kelley focuses on persistent themes and methodology, including questions of myth, national origins, chronology, language, literary forms, rhetoric, translation, historical method and criticism, theory and practice of interpretation, cultural studies, philosophy of history, and "historicism."

Kelley begins by analyzing the dual tradition established by the foundational works of Greek historiography—Herodotus’s broad cultural and antiquarian inquiry and the contrasting model of Thucydides’ contemporary political and analytical narrative. He then examines the many variations on and departures from these themes produced in writings from Greek, Roman, Jewish, and Christian antiquity, in medieval chronicles, in national histories and revisions of history during the Renaissance and Reformation, and in the rise of erudite and enlightened history in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Throughout, Kelley discusses how later historians viewed their predecessors, including both supporters and detractors of the authors in question.

The book, which is a companion volume to Kelley’s highly praised anthology Versions of History from Antiquity to the Enlightenment, will be a valuable resource for scholars and students interested in interpretations of the past.

Donald R. Kelley, James Westfall Thompson Professor of History at Rutgers University, is executive editor of Journal of the History of Ideas.

"This book combines a fresh and insightful overview of the Western historiographical tradition with a real thesis that is defended with verve and erudition. A scholarly tour de force."—Marcia Colish, Oberlin College


"Kelley, a well-known historian of the early modern period, has written a fine account. . . . To achieve a sense of unity to the story of historiography Kelley intertwines texts and ideas over the long span of centuries. The careful reader will find the book rewarding."—Choice

"Erudite and challenging, this postmodernist study serves as a good survey of historiography for advanced undergraduates and graduate students."—David Graf, Religious Studies Review


“It is a nearly stupendous feat to explore twenty-five centuries of Western historical practice in a vivid and coherent exposition. Donald R. Kelley’s lucid study has accomplished this task quite convincingly and elegantly: it is amazingly synoptic, masterful, and thought-provoking, without lapsing into encyclopedic blandness or collapsing into its own fold-up Procrustean bed of overwrought theory. This truly impressive work might best be characterized as a kind of carefully crafted ‘metahistoriography’—a lucid yet impassioned rejoinder to Hayden White’s ‘metahistory,’ along with all sorts of modern and postmodern relativisms of the first and second order.”—Michael Ermarth, American Historical Review


“Donald Kelley provides readers with a unified interpretation of historical writing in the West from the foundations formed by Herodotus and Thucydides down to the nineteenth century. . . . When read with the sourcebook, this work becomes not only a wonderful teaching tool, but also an interesting overview of the historical genre that reflects Kelley’s wide scholarship and reading of major and minor figures in the discipline’s past.”—Robert Andre LaFleur, Sixteenth Century Journal

ISBN: 9780300073089
Publication Date: January 11, 1999
352 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
Fortunes of History

Historical Inquiry from Herder to Huizinga

Donald R. Kelley

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Historical Inquiry in the Twentieth Century
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