PATRICK BOUCHERON is a historian. A Professor in the History of the Powers in Western Europe at the Collège de France, Paris, he is the author of a dozen books on 14th- and 15th-century Italian history, as well as on the methodology of history.
Fragile, Necessary HistoryBy Patrick Boucheron
“On the Use and Abuse of History for Life”—we should always start from there. You will doubtless have recognized the title of Nietzsche’s second Untimely Meditation, a joyous tilt at the ponderous historicism of his time. Nietzsche was writing in 1874, aware that the discipline of history was becoming modernity’s new religion. The discipline, yeswith its rigorous method, staid procedures, and acute sense of social importance.