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By Sophie Bourgault

A spouse to Enlightenment Historiography presents a survey of crucial historians and historiographical debates within the lengthy eighteenth century, analyzing those debates' stylistic, philosophical and political value. The chapters, a lot of which have been in particular commissioned for this quantity, provide a mix of available advent and unique interpretive argument; they're going to therefore attraction either to the coed of the interval and the extra common reader. half I considers Gibbon, Hume, Robertson, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Herder and Vico. half II explores wider subject matters of nationwide and thematic context: English, Scottish, French and German Enlightenment historians are mentioned, as are the thoughts of old development, secularism, the origins of historicism and the deployments of Greek and Roman antiquity inside of 18th century historiography. participants are Robert Mankin, Simon Kow, Jeffrey Smitten, Rebecca Kingston, Siofra Pierse, Bertrand Binoche, Donald Phillip Verene, Ulrich Muhlack, David Allan, Noelle Gallagher, Francois-Emmanuel Boucher, Sandra Rudnick Luft, Sophie Bourgault, C. Akca Atac, and Robert Sparling.

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Instructive as an unfolding in urban space would have been, Gibbon realized early on that these limits were too narrow and would give rise to a “tedious repetition” of similar scenes (1:1067–1068). 4 The urbs gave way to provinces and empire, though in reality Gibbon’s account would travel farther still and engage with much of the Eurasian continent, the “civilized nations” (those of Europe and China) and the steppe peoples or barbarians (1:1025). With this geographical expansiveness in mind, the present essay will explore the idea of the Decline and its author in relation to space.

Gibbon likewise considered Hume’s History of England to the Reign of Henry VII “Ingenious but superficial” (p. 42; his emphasis). 18 Gibbon’s friend and posthumous editor, John Holroyd Lord Sheffield, helped to fashion this image by confounding Gibbon and Voltaire. See the argument and passages reproduced in Womersley, Gibbon and the “Watchmen”, pp. 347, 369–371, and useful bibliography on the “English Voltaire” interpretation, p. 162. Voltaire certainly influenced Gibbon in some ways, as he did Hume and Robertson.

For even Herder—the thinker who most balked at presentist prejudices and who most broke with his contemporaries over their lack of attentiveness to difference—was nonetheless centrally concerned with the project of discovering the nature, duties and destiny of humanity, a passionate enterprise that is somewhat at a distance from the more modest and minute task of the pure professional historian. But we will now end these general comments before the charge of oversimplification weighs too heavily upon us.

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