Time for History
Tid for historie
This is a book about the writing of history. It is written for a general audience, but of interest to students and professional historians alike. The history of histotiography is an established genre, but Time for History is unusual in two respects.
First, it is concerned not with the varieties of contemporary historiography, its methods and results, but with the questions that unite the discipline: What can we know about the past? Who is history about? How do we perceive time as distance? What are the implications of the idea that the past is different from the present?
The book deals with the big questions of the writing of history, but it does so by means of example, by wonderful, exotic, and unexpected quotes and stories.
The joy of the past is a recurrent theme of Time for History, and an underlying answer to its ultimate question about what history is. History is not just knowledge, study, and work, but also the sense of amazement and strangeness, and the enjoyment of what is lost.
Time for History contrasts these themes with a series of brief essays, each dealing with an image representing the idea of posterity. These images function as a melancholic counterpoint to the main narrative, and they form an important part of the book as a study in uncertainty, erudition, and happiness.