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A Lover's Quarrel with the Past

A Lover's Quarrel with the Past: Romance, Representation, Reading

Ranjan Ghosh
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 196
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  • Book Info
    A Lover's Quarrel with the Past
    Book Description:

    Although not a professional historian, the author raises several issues pertinent to the state of history today. Qualifying the 'non-historian' as an 'able' interventionist in historical studies, the author explores the relationship between history and theory within the current epistemological configurations and refigurations. He asks how history transcends the obsessive 'linguistic' turn, which has been hegemonizing literary/discourse analysis, and focuses greater attention on historical experience and where history stands in relation to our understanding of ethics, religion and the current state of global politics that underlines the manipulation and abuse of history.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-485-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface to the Series
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Jörn Rüsen
  5. FOREWORD: Imagination and Fact: A Lover’s Quarrel
    (pp. xvii-xxxiv)
    Frank Ankersmit

    InLover’s Quarrel with the PastGhosh presents us with a fascinating account of Indian historical consciousness and of how India relates to its past. ‘Fascinating’, if only because India still often is the country of miracles (‘das Wunderland’) in Western eyes that Hegel already discerned in it. But fascinating above all since for most Western readers Ghosh’s book will be like the exploration of a strange and unknown territory. They will discover in this book the account of a relationship to the past that is wholly unlike anything familiar to them.

    To be sure, not all of the book...

  6. INTRODUCTION: The Quarrel Begins . . .
    (pp. 1-7)

    ‘History does not exist’, writes Susan Crane, ‘apart from our thinking it. Clearly, there are as many ways of experiencing history as there are histories to experience’.¹ Such an experience and understanding of history, however, was never a part of my growing up; history books meant an immersion in drudgery, a laborious saunter down a thick slush of facts and a wrestle with the imminent prospect of comeuppance in the event of forgetting some details while writing tests. History lessons meant an effort to fight back a yawn, a survival cry against a mounting stockpile of information that almost always...

  7. CHAPTER 1 Romancing the Past: Presence and Intangibilities of History
    (pp. 8-27)

    Romancing history is a projection of sympathy and indulgence into a past age; history in its invocation of the past is a ‘museum of held reverberations’⁴; this can lead to excesses, transgressions, instabilities summoning up a delicate consortment of imbalances between the past and the present. It is a poeticisation of the past, a kind of sin that ‘imbalances’ generate, a sin that ‘imagination’ promotes, a sin that spurts a creative gush. Ann Rigney, in her delight of a bookImperfect Histories,argues that the ‘very possibility of historical knowledge implies the possibility of ignorance’. She writes:

    Every historical work...

  8. CHAPTER 2 Reality of Representation, Reality behind Representation: History and Memory
    (pp. 28-70)

    ‘Memory does not form an Opposition with oblivion’, notes Tzvetan Todorov.

    The two terms that form a contrasting pair areeffacement(forgetfulness) andconservation.Memory is, always and necessarily, an interaction between the two. The complete restitution of the past is terrifying and a clear impossibility (one, however, that Borges imagined in his story of ‘Funes, the Memorious’). Memory is essentially a selection: certain traits of an event are conserved, others immediately or progressively set aside and forgotten. Hence it is baffling that the ability Computers have to save information is termed memory, since they lack a basic feature of memory,...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Whose Mandir? Whose Masjid? The Historian’s Ethics and the Ethics of Historical Reading
    (pp. 71-130)

    The fantasy, faith, fanaticism and furore over several cases involving the ‘romance’ and ‘representation’ of history drive the historian into the eye of the storm and, unavoidably, beg an interrogation into the politics of writing history, the ethics of reading and the impact that multiple discourses ranging across several disciplinary domains and contemporary existential aggravations can engineer on a historian’scommitmentto his discipline. Doing history is inflected by the deeply invested milieu in which a historian finds him-or herself continually exposed to a farrago of conflicting propositions and positions. This gives rise to the need to grow a distinct...

  10. Afterword: The Quarrel Continues …
    (pp. 131-145)
    Mark Bevir and Ranjan Ghosh

    Hayden White, speaking to me, mentioned that ‘history’ refers ‘both to investigation of the past by professional specialists in different areas of study and to consideration of the relations between present and past and the process by which the present becomes past or the past intrudes itself into the present. The former notion belongs to the specialist, the latter one belongs to everybody – because everyone has a right to work out what he or she will make of this relationship for oneself ’.¹ This ‘everyone’ is the agency I have become an embodied part of, a space that triggered the...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 146-156)
  12. Index
    (pp. 157-162)