Neoclassical History and the Modern World

Part of the Studies in Modern History book series (SMH)


In 1716, writing in The Freeholder, Joseph Addison restated the commonplace complaint against English historical writing:

The Misfortune is, that there are more Instances of Men who deserve … Immortality, than of Authors who are able to bestow it. Our Country, which has produced Writers of the first Figure in every other kind of Work, has been very barren in good Historians. We have had several who have been able to compile Matters of Fact, but very few who have been able to digest them with that Purity and Elegance of Stile, that Nicety and Strength of Reflection, that Subtilty and Discernment in the Unravelling of a Character, and that Choice of Circumstances for enlivening the whole Narration, which we so justly admire in the antient Historians of Greece and Rome, and in some Authors of our neighbouring Nations.1

This criticism dated from the sixteenth century and lasted until the mid-eighteenth century.2


Sixteenth Century Modern World Ancient Historian Printing Press Classical Historian 
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Copyright information

© Philip Hicks 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint Mary’s CollegeNotre DameUSA

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