Since the time of Herodotus, historians have debated the role that myth should play in history. Most have sided with Thucydides, who denounced myth as "unscientific". Joseph Mali, on the other hand, argues that the task of modern historiography is to illuminate, not eliminate, historical myths by showing how they have passed into and shaped historical reality. Mali uses the concept of "mythistory" to steer a course between and beyond older views that confined history to "what really happened" and new, postmodern theories that reduce it to what people have merely imagined to have happened. In a tour de force of intellectual history, Mali traces mythistory from the ancient world to the modern, showing, for instance, how Vico and Michelet sought to recover a deeper and truer myth from uncertain history. He pays special attention to Jacob Burckhardt, Aby Warburg, Ernst Kantorowicz and Walter Benjamin. Their work, Mali argues, shows us a different way of imagining the past, acknowledging the crucial role that myth plays in the construction of histories of personal and communal identity.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 328
Weight: 626 g
Dimensions: 235 x 162 x 19 mm