Sunday, February 26, 2017
`The Great Dream of History'
Some writers turn their work into a long meditation on the past, the vagaries of history and the nature of man. A few of them are formal historians, like Gibbon, who characterized all of history as “little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.” Others are poets or playwrights, like Homer or Shakespeare, and some are novelists, like Solzhenitsyn. Janet Lewis identifies this quality in the French novelist Marguerite Yourcenar:
“She is as much a historian as a novelist. Elsewhere (in Les Yeux Ouverts) she speaks of the great dream of history, that is to say, the world of all the living people of the past, so that when one loves life one loves the past. She even uses the word vivants, which includes more than people -- animals, plants, the moving air.”