Die Macht der Tradition in ausgewählten Texten der Scapigliatura (German Edition)
Since we always remember the past from the perspective of our contemporary world, our memories are located in the in-between of the present and the past. Memory as a relationship to a meaningful past can therefore change according to the emerging needs of an individual or a group.
Its time-horizon spans the past, the present, and the future: This goes some way towards explaining why we forget, rediscover, and revise aspects of our personal and collective pasts. Jeffrey Prager, Presenting the Past. Harvard University Press, , p. Or, to put it differently: That there is an intimate link between memory and narrative has been recognized by many disciplines such as philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and historiography which, over the past three decades, have increasingly studied the function of narrative for the formation of our symbolic worlds.
The consensus that narrative is at the very heart of all human deliberations on meaning is overwhelming, as a few illustrations will show. The opening of L. Still haunted by the events of a distant but extraordinary childhood summer, the elderly narrator recalls the events which have continued to live so vibrantly within him. In thrall to those moments of the past which predicted perhaps even defined what he has become, he gives them expression in the story he tells.
It is a useful illustration of the obvious: In On Stories, for example, Richard Kearney has shown how these elements 14 Edric Caldicott and Anne Fuchs sometimes coagulate spontaneously to form a national narrative; his most striking examples come from the USA: The more extra-terrestrial the better. On the other hand, the secretion of a national narrative is not always so innocent. The social collectivity may impose and mould a pattern of responses in its members; this can take the form of conformity in legislated areas such as religion, language, and education, or the recognition of identifiable regional affiliations.
In this way it can be said that objective cultural values shape memory and behaviour. Conversely, in the case of less traditional societies, or in a radically altered social order, close integration follows a process of immigration or assimilation in which a personal quest for identification with the new or adoptive community cohabits with an earlier set of values.
This explains how ci-devant aristocrats were able to participate in the republican experiment of France, or why it was that emigrants from Poland, Sicily and Ireland proudly became Polish-American, Italian-American, or Irish-American: Routledge, , p. Cambridge University Press, Introduction 15 with a new order stems from a sense of personal choice. This is subjective culture at work. It goes without saying that at times of great social upheaval, in times of war or mass emigration, there are processes of identification with the past, with the new present, or with the future, which are shared by large communities.
Just as immigrants to a traditional conservative society may spark a reinforcement of objective cultural values, so the process of re-rooting can, depending upon the circumstances, create reactions as varied as hope, guilt, nostalgia, hate, or despair. Sociologists will recognize here the classic conditions for the creation of endogamous or exogamous groups in-groups or out-groups , but our concern in this collection of essays is to show how the life of the imagination shares in the processes of change, assimilation and redefinition.
Emerging from circumstances like these, whether it celebrates or mourns the passing of an old order, the literary work of fiction has a quality of authenticity to match that of the historical record. Such pre-critical notions always suggest that our cultural horizons are genuine, unmediated and natural.
Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities. Verso, , p. Columbia University Press, , p. Collective memory, as analysed by Halbwachs, has a lifetime of roughly three or four generations; it is characterized by its limited horizon and oral traditions; it is informal and based on everyday communication between members of a group. As analysed by the Egyptologist and cultural theorist Jan Assmann, however, cultural memory differs from collective memory in its distance from the world of the everyday: Distance from the everyday transcendence marks its temporal horizon.
Cultural memory has its fixed point; its horizon does not change with the passing of time. These fixed points are fateful events of the past, whose memory is maintained through cultural formation texts, rites, monuments and institutional communication recitation, practice, observance. The entire Jewish calendar is based on figures of memory.
In the flow of everyday communications such as festivals, rites, epics, poems, images etc. The texts, images, festivals, rites etc. Introduction 17 10 mandarins, priests, rabbis, or poets. In the early civilizations two of its primary forms are therefore the ritual and festival, both of which allow the group to participate in cultural memory Assmann, Das kulturelle…: The advent of writing, however, leads to a transition from ritual towards textually constituted cultural coherence.
The canon as a highly formalized tradition gives expression to the normative self-image of the group by means of a quasi-contractual relationship between a corpus of texts and the group. Canonization therefore always implies the obligation to remember a particular tradition. The prescriptive dimensions of cultural memory, its affinity with the sacred, and ceremonial function, have of course long been eroded in our post-canonical and post-colonial world. Cultural memory is more than ever fragmented in different minority groups who attempt to legitimize their cultural identities by claiming localized and competing traditions.
Cultural memory today rarely offers an island of timelessness, where meaning survives as a pure crystal that must be passed down to the next generation. Models of objective and subjective culture coexist in the world, exemplified by France and the USA respectively but, in an age of memory contests, memory has become diversified, destabilised and more vulnerable to drastic revisions. Beck, , p. The relatively recent diversification of cultural memory does not, however, destroy its primary function of providing a group with an awareness of its unity and peculiarity.
Cultural memory today involves a retrospective imagining that simultaneously articulates, questions and investigates the normative self-image of a group. It is a self-reflexive and increasingly ethno-critical practice: Or, to put it another way, cultural memory can be understood as a repertoire of symbolic forms and stories through which communities advance and edit competing identities.
Since the late s European societies have been deeply immersed in debates on cultural memory. Its causes are legion, and can be rapidly summarized as follows: The loss of first-hand witnesses, acutely felt in Britain after the Second World War, created a fruitful style of reconstructive nostalgia in socio- Introduction 19 the geo-political landscape after the end of dictatorships, i. The theme of memory in Irish literature is the haunting refrain of the dispossessed. The conjuncture in question may also have had its impact on prose fiction, as in L.
For recent assessment of the proliferation of Holocaust studies, and its consequences, see Times Literary Supplement, special no. Nachrichten aus Mitteleuropa Frankfurt a. Poems of the Dispossessed, Thomas Kinsella trans. Dolmen Press, , Postmemory is a powerful and very particular form of memory precisely because its connection to its object or source is mediated not through recollection 16 but through an imaginative investment and creation.
In the first instance, postmemory captures the after-life of Holocaust memories in our contemporary world: Unlike memory, which establishes a direct connection to the remembered past, postmemory is thus extremely self-conscious, hyper-mediated and, as Young points out, even self-indulgent Young: These introductory reflections do not offer a new theoretical approach to the complex cross-stitching between the present and the past, memory and narrativity, memory and trauma, and memory and forgetting. However, by outlining the cultural horizon in which this volume is situated, they should provide 16 17 18 Marianne Hirsch, Family Frames: Yale University Press, , pp.
See also Norman G. Introduction 21 an intellectual map for the following collection of articles, which examine the construction of cultural memory in examples of European discourse from the seventeenth century to the present day. Since our approach is not primarily historical in nature, the various contributions are structured around the following five thematic lines of enquiry: Put another way, our volume illustrates that cultural memory is not always a national affair.
All the essays in this book contribute to a dialogue about memory and identity in the context of European history and literature, but at the same time it should be emphasized that the five headings that guide our exploration of cultural memory do not provide entirely distinct categories that should be seen in isolation from one another. Nearly all contributions connect with themes and topoi that recur elsewhere.
Ideally, the arrangement of the separate articles under the five headings should create a network of concerns whose nodes consist of concepts such as historiography, narrative, and identity. The collection cannot lay claim to being exhaustive, but it does explore and illustrate the sense of cultural difference without which dialogue in Europe would be impossible. At a time when the fear of aliens steps out of the American subconscious to impinge upon, and shut out, real relations in the world, the diversity and sense of cultural difference in Europe are appreciated as a precious asset.
They exist because history, memory, tradition, and the life of the imagination freely explore and assimilate contrasting perceptions of the past. Memory as Counter-History Dealing with the complex relationship between historiography and memory in examples ranging from the Enlightenment in France and Germany to contemporary post-Holocaust discourse, this section offers five essays.
Critical in that it resists a simple return to the archive, a post-deconstructionist form of historicism; ethical in that its resolve is to focus on the speechless victims of a history full, as it is, of catastrophes. In both cases, recourse to memory is seen to be a revolt against the orthodoxy of the day: This, in the course of time, could only be seen as an alternative history of the crisis, if not a revolt against the powers-that-were. In the case of Voltaire, a century later, the focus could only be individual and openly provocative. In his unique blend of showmanship and adherence to transparent critical values, Voltaire questioned prevalent ideas of truth in historical writing; the champion of relativism attacked canonical interpretations of the past to propound a new concept of historical writing, one in which an open admission of the narrating self, including his or her personal, intellectual testimony, should be admitted.
Following Levinas and Edith Wyschogrod, she advocates a type of discourse which brings into relief the alterity of the other, without, however, forcing this other into speech. She concludes that W. While official GDR historiography claimed to have mastered National Socialism through a rational mode of analysis, it had effectively created a split between factual knowledge of fascist crimes on the one hand and personal memories on the other.
In his poetry of the s and s, Bobrowski turns to the eastern Jewish culture, bringing into relief the lasting effects of National Socialist violence through a figurative language that makes room for private associations and memories. Through the use of archetypal imagery, myth and folklore, both poets thus offer an alternative, deeply personal mode of expression that mediates the suppressed memory of historical violence, in this case, the National Socialist past.
Narrative and Remembering The intimate link between cultural memory and narrative mentioned before is foregrounded in the second set of essays. However, the available documentary evidence, including letters and photographs, argues Byrnes, results in an imaginary reconstruction that makes the fractures of memory visible.
Locating Memory The location of memory in both real and imaginary sites provides the point of departure for the following section. The concept of the museum is taken beyond its original roots, the consecrated role of a shrine of national achievement, of national memory, to the global appreciation of art at a universal, almost metaphysical, level.
Place names of battle sites, sites of death and burial are discussed as specific examples of loci memoriae that form a cartography of a social memory that continues to feature in Irish folklore well into the twentieth century. Comparing cultural memory in Aby Warburg and Walter Benjamin, Emden shows that both thinkers engage in an interdisciplinary undertaking that highlights the complex interplay between the material conditions of culture and their symbolic after-life.
Like Benjamin, Warburg favours an archaeological view of the past which analyses those hidden connections and forgotten details that subconsciously inform our cultural memory. Instead it is a specific way of looking at the past that prioritizes the minutiae over the monumentalizing gaze of the historian proper. The act of relocating memory is thus seen to be sometimes a form of flight as well as a dogged affirmation of new directions. Her inability to locate herself in the world goes hand in hand with her inability to recall her past in a coherent story.
Remembering and Renewal If remembering is often associated with a sense of loss, it can also serve as inspiration for collective new beginnings and for the individual creative act. Exploring the process of remembering in the spheres of both collective and individual experience, the subjects embraced in this section show how commemoration becomes celebration: Like a background fugue, however, the sense of renewal is frequently shown to entail a sense of loss.
Following the example given by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger in their collection of essays on nineteenthcentury nationalism, entitled The Invention of Tradition, Edric Caldicott investigates the manipulation of memory in the early years of the French Third Republic, still the longest-lived of the political constitutions inspired by the French Revolution. From official acts of commemoration to educational policy and the Introduction 29 emerging status of the writer as the seer of state, memory is shown to be a powerful instrument of persuasion in the political arena. Cross-cultural influences are shown to provoke changes beyond their immediate environment, even within traditions which are assumed to have their own national self-sufficiency.
The next two chapters of this section adopt a wider angle of vision to explore the conceptual issues of the translatio studii. Susan Bassnett investigates the strategies of the translator and, with that, the place reserved for original, residual, cultural values transplanted into another language.
Caught between servitude and subversion, the translator is also trapped between the past and the present. To preserve a literary time capsule which is necessarily altered by the act of translation , or to interpret remember a work for his or her own time? A selection of specific translations, including those of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the Brazilian Haroldo de Campos, Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney, illustrate how dangerous, and yet how essential and rewarding, the craft of the translator is.
Using La Culture au pluriel and Une Politique de la langue: Can 30 Edric Caldicott and Anne Fuchs memory be said to exist if not reproduced? Is memory meaning, more specifically, the reproduction of memory not a prerogative of wealth and power? From this point of view, the reconstruction of the patrimoine, or popular culture, may be considered to be as much a loss as a renewal.
The concept of official memory, with the ossification of approved models in the form of the Francoist legacy in Spain, is challenged by the contemporary Spanish writer-in-exile, Juan Goytisolo. The subtle aesthetics of his narratorial strategy stimulates comparison with Cervantes himself, an emblem of Spain and yet an exemplary exponent of authorial hide-and-seek. Remembering as Trauma If renewal entails loss, it is also built upon trauma.
In this respect, memory studies hold a precarious balance between celebration and commemoration, between rejoicing and mourning. It would be futile to seek the point of preponderance between these extremes, and probably fatuous, if not a betrayal, to assert that the reproduction of memory, i. If the trauma of the past is to be a lesson for the future, it must be remembered as recorded by its Introduction 31 witnesses and victims.
Revulsion for the past drives the writer not to a self-portrait of the hero, but to an antiportrait full of self-loathing. Concerned with the ambivalence of the mother—daughter relationship, the emotional disorders of the parental generation, and the interplay of silence and rage that characterizes the transmission of the trauma to the second generation, the autobiographies articulate female Jewish identities that remain fragmented and heterogeneous.
Finnan concludes that they succeed in challenging the continued recasting of German-Jewish relations in the binary dichotomy of self versus other. In the concluding chapter of the book, Silvia Ross explores the German occupation of Rome and, in particular, the unforgiving portrait of the unforgivable Celeste Di Porto, dubbed the Pantera Nera, whose infamous complicity is explored in the work of Elena Gianini Belotti and Giuseppe Pederiali.
It is a subject which brings us back to the fundamental questions with which we began, and which have spread in ever-widening circles. What forms of narrative can ever offer an explanation of the past? How do the demands of the elusive reality of memory, collective or individual, isolate us from each other, and how do they find expression?
Memory as Counter-History This page intentionally left blank Jeanne Riou Historiography and the Critique of Culture in Schiller, Nietzsche and Benjamin Theories of memory, from psychoanalysis, deconstruction, to intertextuality, have had considerable implications for historiography and the question of how the past is reviewed. Increasingly, during the s there was a critical attempt to re-think memory across disciplinary boundaries. Studien zur Mnemotechnik Frankfurt a. Suhrkamp, , pp. Was sie kann, was sie will Hamburg: Rowohlt, , pp.
It is concerned with the process of reading culture as one which does not translate the past, but which ascribes particular meaning to history in the process of reading the past Assmann: Dietrich Harth comments that Cultural Studies as a discipline both contains and creates its fields of observation. The defining feature of cultural memory, understood here as a practice, is that it should not be conflated with the pre-critical notion of tradition; it cannot mediate between past and present as the nineteenth-century hermeneutic model of understanding from Schleiermacher to Dilthey suggested, and it is not to be conflated with a canonical representation of history.
The image of the kaleidoscope suggests the multiplicity of interpretative processes as well as the diversity of the material resources that themselves constitute cultural memory. This study examines the relationship between cultural memory and aspects of historiography in the late Enlightenment. The notion of universal history in the Enlightenment and the accompanying interest in ethnography are always at least implicit points of departure for contemporary critiques of culture. It is likewise difficult to envisage any debate on cultural memory that is not somehow rooted in a critique of rationalism.
Carl Hanser, , p. Dresden University Press, , p. Historiography and the Critique of Culture 37 will be discussed: Examining the paradigm of memory which is operative in these texts, the opening section of this chapter attempts to place this paradigm within the context of the critique of Enlightenment epistemology which began with Nietzsche.
Both of the Schiller essays exemplify the Idealist model of historiography, but at the same time Schiller clearly struggles with the expectation that a historiographer, in order to grasp any event, must be in possession of a totality of knowledge leading up to that event. His implicit question is: Where does the task of the historian begin and how may the parameters of historiography be defined? As he acknowledges in a letter to Caroline von Beulwitz in , historical narrative is aesthetic in nature and the historiographer is deluded in thinking otherwise.
There is therefore no knowledge of historical facts that is not somehow translated for narrative purposes: While other thinkers of the late Enlightenment from Johann Gottlieb Herder to Wilhelm von Humboldt or, of course, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, are more readily associated with the philosophy of history than Schiller, Schiller nevertheless raises certain questions that are central to Enlightenment historiography and its epistemological premises. The final section of this contribution returns to critiques of Enlightenment rationalism.
He rejects its belief in truth, understanding and progress, seeing this as based on an epistemology which, from Descartes to Kant and Hegel, rationalizes human existence into an arbitrary model of subject identity. For Nietzsche, the optimistic Enlightenment slant on history is crudely triumphalist, and based on an Idealist grand gesture of replicating the past.
History, for Nietzsche, is opposed to life, at least as far as its philosophical definition is concerned: Considered in this way, the historiographer is invested with the knowledge of the errors of the past, which he reviews dialectically as embodied alternatives firstly to the 7 Friedrich Nietzsche, Werke, Karl Schlechta ed. Further references to this edition are given in the text.
Historiography and the Critique of Culture 39 present and secondly to its transcendental continuation in the future. Along these lines it is possible for Hegel to consider reflection itself as grounded in the return of activity from the phenomenon to the consciousness. By extension, since the subject is thereby guaranteed at least the possibility of accurate knowledge outside selfhood, the historian can regard time in the past as knowable within the present. Instead of only gaining self-knowledge, the historiographer works from the identity of self in present time, and present time is clearly distinguishable from time that is past in the very terms of knowing.
Therefore the historiographer, although bound in the present, can survey the past if he presents it to himself in the same manner as any object must become known to the transcendental subject in representation. Nietzsche compares this over-reliance on historical knowledge to a paralysing weight that decreases activity in the present. From the point of view of the present, if one immerses oneself wholly in the contemplated past, no course of action seems open for simply thinking in the present that is not somehow moulded by habit.
From here he goes on to develop his notion of the importance of forgetting with the famous analogy of animals grazing: Justified though his criticisms are, their consequences, if brought to a logical conclusion, are that the historian must occasionally abdicate responsibility for the past. That notwithstanding, Nietzsche regards the a-historic origin of all historical thinking from within the aesthetics of antiquity: There is within this, a tendency towards a subjectivized and mythologically aestheticizing recourse to the past.
Surely this is as problematic for the interpretation of history as the totalizing stance taken by Hegel. Furthermore the uncomfortable question arises as to whether any model of historiography that adopts a less assured stance than either of these opposite positions will somehow be caught in between, leaving the arguments of either Hegel on the one hand or Nietzsche on the other fundamentally unanswered. The challenge to cultural memory is surely to question how the notion of culture can be debated in a way that avoids monumentalizing and at the same time goes beyond the politically debilitating arguments of Nietzsche.
Between the convening of the Estates General and the storming of the Bastille in , Friedrich Schiller, at this stage firmly a Republican sympathizer, held his inaugural address at the university of Jena on the subject of historiography. His idea of a com- 9 Karl-Heinz Hahn ed. Nationalausgabe, 42 vols Weimar: Historiography and the Critique of Culture 41 parative, universal historiography calls for different levels of historical and philosophical analysis.
The address is a partly contradictory piece of writing, seeming to divide into two lines of thought that are difficult to reconcile: From this he moves on to the problem of history itself: Any expansion of his trade that might incrue more work or render his achievements useless, any important discovery, frightens him, since it breaks with the old uniformity which he has so painstakingly mastered and it puts him in danger of forfeiting the entire fruit of his labour up to that point.
The average scholar is not a man of genius, not a real thinker, and certainly not one who would welcome reform, be it in the sense of Martin Luther, or since Schiller is writing on the verge of the collapse of the ancien regime of revolution. The so-called facts, he claims, are known to us in the form of such treasures arranged in the opportunistic gaze of the historian.
The historian is furthermore often someone who neither understands nor cares about his subject. This goes beyond the personality of the individual and has implications for the telos of the discipline. Schiller goes on to imply that this type of scholar is like a mercenary soldier. In other words, the disinterested mercenary academic pragmatist plays a considerable part in the machinery of power.
Bearing in mind these misgivings, Schiller is faced with the problem of how the recorded tellings of the past are to be used in such a way that they do not simply reinforce the selfpromoting line of careerist intellectuals. Trying to resolve this problem, he firstly outlines the deficits of individual disciplines such as law, medicine, the empirical sciences and finally philosophy. What would enable this is the philosophical and comparative method of study. Without a historiography that is automatically a philosophy of history, historians would be at the mercy of uncorrected empirical classification on the one hand, and interpretations that are retrospective and support a given status quo on the other Hahn: Schiller points out that history not only explains with reference to the past, but 11 From Schiller, Hegel to Nietzsche, the historiographer is a masculinized identity.
Historiography and the Critique of Culture 43 that the thinkers who explain the past are themselves products of a political system. He is talking about the imaginative but also empirical reference point to something that has a particular place in the logic of cause and event. If the historian makes the mistake of simply gathering evidence along one line of analysis, there is nothing to guarantee that the evidence will not be selected to suit the hypothesis.
It is not that Schiller is arguing against historiography, but that he is concerned with the critical methodology for interpreting the past. He is not alone in this. Herder, for instance, envisages a philosophy of history in which the history of any culture must be read in comparison with the development of other cultures. The same fundamental idea can be found in Rousseau, although Rousseau has major reservations about the legitimacy of European domination of the world and subsequently about Eurocentric readings of so-called primitive cultures.
It could be a book, a method of interpretation or a geographically contained set of explanations for a historical conflict in a particular region. The essay believes in the capacity of reason to establish a legitimate basis for historiography. The language becomes heroic when Schiller defines the role of the philosopher, who is henceforth to be entrusted with reuniting what has become divided by the politics of reason. Here Schiller reflects the idealizing, harmonizing vision of the late Enlightenment. He is essentially optimistic about the voice of reason being a critical one, capable of remembering the past and of 44 Jeanne Riou putting things right in the future.
The European has lost what had made him human, his capacity to feel as well as to think. At the same time, in his barbarism, primitive man shows up the stage from which modern man has emerged in his journey towards reason. Asking what the travelogues of the colonial world revealed, Schiller lists off despotism, wildness, slavery, superstition, stupidity, and the naked defensiveness of a community always on the alert against attack: So tief ihn dort Sclaverey, Dummheit und Aberglauben niederbeugen, so elend ist er hier durch das andre Extrem gesetzloser Freyheit.
As low as he sinks to slavery, stupidity and superstition, he can equally rise up to the nobility of the other extreme: On one level it is the obvious Enlightenment rejection of primitive ritual, since what is to be aimed towards in Enlightenment terms is a contractual society. This would be based on reason, but nevertheless be able to look back at what it had been before becoming reasoned.
The model of cultural memory is allencompassing here and is confident of its ability to understand the past. In order to understand any single moment, it would be necessary, Schiller continues, to understand all of history. To Historiography and the Critique of Culture 45 understand any sequence of events, each event must be disentangled and understood as a frozen moment. This, Schiller knows, is impossible, since it would involve knowledge of irretrievably lost tracts of time that were not documented. There is an implicit link between what Schiller alludes to in saying that mythology is a history of human self-reflection and his poetic attempt, particularly in his classical period, to concentrate on antiquity as a frozen moment in time from which the current perspective may then be subjected to humanist reevaluation.
His prerogative was to establish a trans-disciplinary culture of historical examination.
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Therefore cultural history would also involve ethnographic comparison to other cultures. In the essay, the historical figure of Moses is regarded as 12 Cf. Johns Hopkins University Press, To this extent his essay sees what Schiller calls the Hebrew nation as an important universal-historical people which has been treated with great injustice. At one point he uses a metaphor which unwittingly conveys all the ambivalence of Enlightenment liberalism — the Hebrew people is described as the ultimate, if impure, container for cultural memory: We must honour in it the channel in which, impure though it may be, that most noble of all things, the truth, could be conveyed to us, the truth which, coming into its own, broke the vessel which had stored it for all that time.
Without the transition from the mythological worship of many gods to a rationally structured religion in which one god has a paradigmatic hold on the entire identity of a culture, there would be no foundation for the religion Schiller is interested in, namely Reason. The ambivalence of this cannot be overstated here. Egypt is understood as a cultivated state — the Hebrews on the other hand are oppressed and uneducated, incapable of producing a revolutionary saviour.
Moses takes on that role only because he is a product of Egyptian culture. As such, he is in a position to utilize Egyptian philosophy for the salvation of his oppressed people. Had Moses failed in his attempt to rescue his people, he would have fallen victim to their blind fanaticism Hahn: Therefore he needed a regulating idea that would give them a cohesive identity, and for this he appropriated the cultural rites and practices he had learned among the Egyptians.
The mysteries and legend of the temple of Isis are turned from a moment of secrecy into a metaphor for truth underpinning the foundation of a future culture. The political helplessness of the Hebrews, lost in mythology and in the worship of many gods, can thereby be transformed into a normative cultural identity: Aus seinen Mysterien, aus seiner Priesterschule zu Heliopolis, erinnert er sich jetzt des wirksamen Instruments, wodurch ein kleiner PriesterOrden Millionen roher Menschen nach seinem Gefallen lenkte.
This instrument is none other than trust in a divine protection and the belief in supernatural powers. Since he finds nothing in the visible world, the natural order of things, which would provide encouragement for his oppressed nation, he turns to the heavens for this. What it shows quite clearly is the epistemological role attributed to memory by Schiller, and his presupposition of how a mythological notion acquires the status of a founding truth. Assmann regards Spencer as a key figure in the emergence of historicism and the comparative history of religion.
What characterizes this investigation of the traditions combined at the roots of culture is, as Assmann argues, the idea of an origin.
It is this belief in an origin that leads Spencer to make overly radical assumptions about all Hebrew laws and institutions as having been initially Egyptian. Egypt is now doubly established as a cultural origin of Judeo-Christian identity at critical points in modern self-consciousness, firstly in the Renaissance and secondly in the Enlightenment. A fuller discussion of how cultural memory is formed and used would involve at this stage a consideration of the aesthetics of revelation on the level of hermeneutics, and also the role of the image in Weimar Classicism and Romanticism, since these two manifestations of Enlightment rationalism are intricately concerned with both the idea and the normative function of the image.
Nietzsche seems to answer conclusively, and in the negative, the Enlightenment historicist paradigm. Nevertheless, there is equally no pressing reason to agree that a particular culture or indeed an individual must forget for the sake of sanity. Instead of stressing the impossibility of universal knowledge, Benjamin insists on the attempt to do justice to unwritten history. Historical materialism, the type of cultural memory Benjamin tries to identify, looks to the inherent danger within any image of the past.
Historians cannot take account of the real experience of the subjects of history since historiography emerged in the interests of passing on cultural heritage as a valuable, objective document. Benjamin is essentially demanding a phenomenology of historical awareness, an unyielding resolve to write history by recreating and confronting the substance of fear.
Only in this way is it possible to write from beyond the victorious monumentalizing gaze of the victors. Essentially, this represents an intentionality of concentrating on the catastrophic circumstances as they dawn upon the speechless victims of history. Is Benjamin asking the impossible? No, because to write at all with historical intent is to somehow construe the past. At the same time, in recording history, we are not dealing with a random narratological act or an instance of pure aesthetic liberty.
It is therefore justified to argue with Benjamin and against Nietzsche that not only do we have no right to forget, but that historiography must be attempted from the perspective of preventing impending disaster, and therefore always with a subjective concession that suffering, unless we intervene, will be repeated. The roots of cultural memory are in specific efforts of Cultural Studies, and its path has always been one of investigation into disciplinary boundaries.
Since it is to some extent tied in with the disciplinary identity of Cultural Studies today, it is subject to the same pressures and must continue to insist on its critical stance. Should it cease to be identified with the problems of memory, it runs the risk of being usurped as a meaningless label, a fashionable answer to deconstruction, a Historiography and the Critique of Culture 51 return to the archive, a well-intentioned but epistemologically redundant plea for accountability.
That this should happen would not be attributable to models of cultural memory initiated by Benjamin or Simmel or, in contemporary terms, Assmann or Harth. Understanding culture means, as Ernst Cassirer pointed out, accounting for the predicative role of symbolic impression in the writing of culture of which historiography is necessarily a part.
Referring to a work by Paul Klee, Benjamin compares the historian to the depiction of an angel in mid-flight, half-facing the shocking sight which he is already leaving behind. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, , p. The Community of Port-Royal, — It is often said that history is written by the victors. It might also be said that history is forgotten by the victors. They can afford to forget, while the losers are unable to accept what has happened and are condemned to brood over it, relive it, and reflect how different it might have been. Cornell University Press, , p.
Sulliver, ; F. While the Port-Royal community had been returned to the rigour of full observance of the Rule of St. Presses Universitaires de France, , Albin Michel, ; Dale K. Louis Cognet has dated the printing of this text to However, he does indicate that it was intended for limited circulation at that time.
The Community of Port-Royal 55 5 and , believing them to be of no merit. Fayard, , p. In , two events took place that served to transform the process of codification of communal memory at Port-Royal. The most detailed account of the controversy over the signature of the Formulary is to be found in Sainte-Beuve, op. Mere Angelique de S. Jean Arnaud, Abbesse de P. Even at the early stages of communal remembering, quite a few nuns were involved in the process of gathering information. Narratives no longer revolved exclusively around a single dominant figure, but now also emphasized shared participation in a common experience.
The forms used to express the communal memory reflected the newly emerging emphasis on the collective rather than the individual. Paul Goulas , Sr. Augustin Garnier and Sr. Marie-Marcelle when she first started work on her biography of her aunt in Marie-Claire Arnauld and Sr. This is confirmed in Anne-Claire Josse: The printed version of this text is to be found in Divers actes, op. This manuscript PR 71 is considered to be The Community of Port-Royal 61 Saint-Jean initiated the practice of having most public documents of resistance appeals to the Parlement de Paris, to the king and archbishop, accounts of their persecution, reiterations of the theological bases for their stance collectively signed by the community as a whole.
Furthermore, the physical process of producing a discourse of communal memory was itself highly collective in nature. Examples of texts collectively signed include: Other nuns involved in copying key manuscripts included Sr. Suzanne de Sainte-Catherine de Champaigne, the daughter of the painter, Philippe de Champaigne, who copied a version of the Constitutions de PortRoyal in It might also be argued that the process of retrieving and disseminating the testimony of older nuns also facililitated the creation of a homogeneous communal identity as a common pool of memories was shared across generations.
In a letter to Antoine Arnauld, she explained how the account was intended as a confession of her sinfulness and of the divine grace bestowed on her during her period of captivity: Thus, what was emphasized in the account of the life of a key resistance figure, Sr. The consistency in the strategies and arguments used by the community throughout the period of resistance can be seen most markedly in two texts, written 43 years apart, in and , and yet almost identical in the arguments justifying the use of public appeals defending their position.
In both cases, the nuns justified their decision to break religious silence on the basis that they would be criminal before God if they remained silent in the face of efforts to destroy their monastery. Mais nous nous croirions tres-criminelles devant Dieu aussi bien que devant V. However, we would believe ourselves sinful both towards God and Your Majesty if, on an occasion where the complete destruction of our monastery is at stake, we were to neglect to inform Your Majesty that the allegations made against us are without foundation].
The Community of Port-Royal 65 the persecution in , none of the Port-Royal nuns gave more striking witness to the Truth]. Nicolas Potgieter, , p. It also fostered a certain mental rigidity which prevented the nuns from being able to countenance the option of signing the Formulary. Thus, while the communal emphasis on remembering ensured that the community of had access to the resistance texts of the previous generation, it was effectively imprisoned within the framework of this cohesive communal identity and unable psychologically to develop a new perspective.
Communal memory became simultaneously a psychological support and a straitjacket for the later generation. If such a conscious effort was made by the Port-Royal community to construct a collective historical memory which would shape its subsequent historical legacy, why did its memory remain so contested within the Catholic Church?
Why was the community not more effective in persuading future generations of Catholics of the orthodoxy of its cause? Presses Universitaires de France, , pp. The Community of Port-Royal 67 35 the wider societal collective memory. It is apparent that the memory constructed by the Port-Royal nuns could only have been accepted if it had accorded with the predominant thoughts of its society. Furthermore, the space for a dissenting collective memory was even less available within the sphere of collective religious memory where, as Halbwachs argues, new dogma or collective traditions can be incorporated only if they are perceived to fortify the existing tradition.
However, the Port-Royal nuns finally had to accept that they would occupy what Henry Phillips has termed a space of opposition. Phillips has argued that bearing witness became more important than survival. Collective frameworks are, to the contrary, precisely the instruments used by the collective memory to reconstruct an image of the past which is in accord, in each epoch, with the predominant thoughts of our society.
Cambridge University Press, , p. Nor is the issue of truth and its articulation in works of history or memory one that has yet been resolved, as is clear from its modern-day depiction by Walter Benjamin: The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again. Smith for the Proprietors, , 1, p. Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, H. Schocken Books, , p. The following convention will be adopted throughout this paper: Firstly, three historians who were contemporaries of Voltaire will be examined for their treatment of the problem of historical truth.
Secondly, focus will turn to the question of truth in contemporary historical novels, as a genre which closely mimicked history. On closer inspection, truth is actually established in a number of ways. Crucially, the status of the historian and the source of the information are held up as proof of the truth and veracity of a history. As it happens, the history of Charles XII of Sweden was studied by several historians of the time, and thus offers a convenient common ground for the purposes of comparison. This particular interest in Charles XII can be attributed in large part to his youth and charisma, and to his sweeping military campaigns and successes — not unlike the appeal of Louis XIV.
Firstly, Grimarest, an historian of the rather long-winded and over-inventive school, typically establishes his authority at the outset by insisting upon his impeccable lineage as an historian and on his resultant entitlement to write the history of Charles XII, even if geographically situated very far from the action. His heavy stress is on the assertion that he has very close access to the real truth. He quotes his sources just to prove that he hears his history at first hand, out of the proverbial mouths of the protagonists, thus supporting his repeated and forceful claims to veracity and authenticity: And to further guarantee their reliability, I asked people from the opposing faction who, to their credit, acknowledged their truth.
And the public could not wish for more if a more famous author than I had reported on this to them. Le Febvre, , Avertissement. Yet, it was a logic employed by even the most thorough of contemporary historians. One such thorough historian is Theyls, who draws a direct connection between the historical material he produces and the original manuscript notes which he still possesses and which he holds up as allegedly infallible proof of the veracity of his published text.
Theyls writes to assure his Ambassador of his extensive research, producing his sources as proof of truth: Norton, , II, p. Gallimard, , p. Nor does he consider issues such as misinterpretation, revisionism, or time and memory lapse. The result is that climactic events are somewhat smothered in the endless, albeit factually accurate and possibly literally true accounts of meetings and letters which led to the resolutions. Yet, even such apparently true historical facts are subject to misinterpretation, subjectivity and nuance.
Another contemporary historian, Vertot, declares that everything in his history is true, simply because he has painstakingly deciphered other histories which were, of course, full of untruths and thus were intentionally misleading. Having siphoned off the inaccuracies and elaboration of other authors whom he, naturally, accuses of partiality, Vertot promises to present the pure and unadulterated one truth. In the eighteenth-century, this stance is common although not quite universal amongst historians.
Jean du Vivier, In Vertot this certainly is the case, as is shown by the following passage of hollow rhetoric: The more these authors seemed to contradict themselves, the more I applied myself to the contradictions, or to disentangle true from false.
It is achieved by freely admitting the existence of phoney, partial histories, and then by insisting on being able to disentangle the real from the false. Gallimard, , I, pp. An Imitation of History With such blanket assertions by historians, that truth exists and must simply be uncovered, it is clear that the enunciated aspiration of each historian is to recount a factual history, and that history for them equates with truth. With this in mind, it is particularly interesting to examine an unusual case from the contemporary historical novel.
Bibliographical records and contemporary text classification inform us that wherever they successfully and fastidiously mimicked both the approach and enunciated historiographical principles of historians, eighteenth-century historical novels often sold as real histories. Such mimesis is often a key feature of the contemporary novel, as Jenny Mander has illustrated, but the historical novel must be considered as quite a separate genre.
Voltaire Foundation, , pp. With the assertion that what he presents is common knowledge, Defoe evidently manipulates his readers. As these Memories are meerly Historical, they need little Apology, they contain a relation of Things transacted within the View, and perhaps in the Memory of most that shall now read them, and need no better Appeal for their Authority and Truth, than the General Knowledge of Mankind; the Assent of which in this Age, must needs pass for Appro14 bation in the next.
This passage is among the deftest pieces of persuasion to be found in any historical preface. The assessment of truth is not openly insisted upon but, cunningly, passed on to the reader for judgement. By the same token, posterity, including the reader in , is being advised to accept as truth that which contemporaries knew to be fact. Time alone, which conserves memory of all things, is able to restore to each his due reputation.
His technique helped to influence the reception of his history of Charles XII, and to ensure that for many years after its publication it was considered real or true, a History as opposed to a fiction. This is a clear, early instance of a cultural moment being neatly marshalled, packaged, and then presented as an historical memory by a novelist posing as journalist-historian. It is worth noting that some critics today persist in classing this work as history.
Ambition and Innovation Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, , ch. On the one hand, there is the serious historian who insists on solid historical research, good sources, and an indefatigable hunt for first-hand witness accounts and opinions on historical happenings. Such scrupulous research was not always common amongst contemporary historians. Exactly how Voltaire marries these two approaches to historiography is rather ingenious. When Voltaire writes that no historian is omniscient, we encounter a basic premiss of his vision of history: Voltaire Foundation, pp.
Gallimard, , pp. Few other contemporary historians would have either the audacity or the vision to impose such an enlightened but yet self-serving qualification on history. Furthermore, in his later works on the subject, Voltaire insisted on the pyrrhonism of history,22 or the philosophical impossibility of ever knowing all the facts of an event. On the impossibility of omniscience, he wrote in a letter to the Journal des savants: Garnier, , vol.
Voltaire, Correspondance, in Theodore Besterman ed. While so many of his contemporaries claim absolutism in search of the one truth, Voltaire assesses each situation in turn for a degree of truth which is reasonable by his own careful research standards. Truth appears to come in all shapes and sizes within his texts, ranging from the very true to the less true and the not so true. His repeated use of the first person plural indicates that the historian wishes both to include his contemporaries and to set a precedent: Seuil, , p.
Tell it like it is. Does not each one have his own nature, interests, tastes, passions, according to which one exaggerates or tones things down? Diderot, Jacques le fataliste, in A.
Thus he can devise an entirely new vision of history, one which J. In drawing attention to the artifice of the historical composition, history would be exposed for what it is: This portrayal of history as a selective snapshot had traditionally fostered a false sense of security for its purveyors and readers in the eighteenth century. Instead, they seek the one truth in the past, presupposing that it can be seized by historians. It is perhaps as an early precursor of this unhappiness with reconstruction that Voltaire, following the example of the sceptics Bayle and Fontenelle, at least recognized history as an artifice rather than an absolute, and exploited it in his own way, providing his unapologetic account of history as a memory for posterity.
Where his contemporaries argued that memory must focus on dates, battles and facts, Voltaire exposes this as being only part of the picture. His innovation was in proposing a new part-picture, focusing at 31 32 J. Brumfitt, Voltaire Historian Oxford: Oxford University Press, , p. Unusually, Voltaire establishes history as memory and swivels the focus away from battles to culture or society, and from exclusive events to individuals and minutiae. Thus Voltaire confirms that for himself, as for his predecessors, the memory which is available and constructed for posterity is indeed selective and incomplete, merely a memory among many, or selective snapshots of the past.
In this light, one might define the difference between Voltaire and his contemporaries further as being that Voltaire blatantly transfers the focus of history to the purpose of it, from prescriptive, archival, traditional history, to descriptive cultural memory. As he wrote, quite dismissively, of other practitioners: He, Voltaire, would bring just such philosophical flair to history by moving it towards new possibilities, by exposing the framework as artifice and by expelling absolute truth from the equation. Young demonstrates that historical treatises of the Holocaust are just as arbitrary, troped and interpretative as the fictions of the Holocaust.
In his opinion, the disentanglement of the literary and the historical truth of the Holocaust is beyond the bounds of possibility. He concludes that the facts of the Holocaust exist ultimately only in their narrative and cultural reconstruction. The imagination no less than the reason ha[s] to be engaged in any adequate representation of the truth; and this means that the techniques of fictionmaking are as necessary to 2 the composition of a historical discourse as erudition might be. Young, Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation Bloomington: Indiana University Press, , pp.
Essays in Cultural Criticism Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, , p. Marketed as an autobiographical account of a childhood spent in various concentration camps, the book became an immediate bestseller. Does this mean that we depend implicitly on the factuality blueprint of a positivistic historiography to settle such disputes?
Der Fall Wilkomirski zieht weite Kreise: Hayden White contends that one must face the fact that when it comes to apprehending the historical record, there are no grounds to be found in the historical record itself for 5 preferring one way of construing its meaning over another.
In an effort to escape the most extreme implications of this relativism, White tries to differentiate between lie and error by putting forward the idea that a lie is the denial by an interpretation that an event considered by that interpretation is real. A lie therefore exhibits a moral failure.
An error, on the other hand, merely evinces a drawing of false conclusions White However, this distinction fails to address the following issue: Young also acknowledges this dilemma: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation Baltimore: An analysis of the narrative strategies and the formal features of the text suggests that we are presented with a particularly sensitive, responsible Holocaust memoir which reflects on the pitfalls looming when traumatic memory enters the continuum of narrative representation.
If I want to write about it I have to do without the ordering logic, the perspective of the adult. It would only falsify the events. Aus einer Kindheit — Frankfurt a. The impasse in which historiography finds itself trapped can be formulated as follows: David Caroll has pinpointed the aporia most precisely: This quandary has been addressed by the philosopher Edith Wyschogrod in her study An Ethics of Remembering.
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