The Past is a Foreign Country

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Nov 14, 1985 - History - 489 pages
In this remarkably wide-ranging book Professor Lowenthal analyses the ever-changing role of the past in shaping our lives. A heritage at once nurturing and burdensome, the past allows us to make sense of the present whilst imposing powerful constraints upon the way that present develops. Some aspects of the past are celebrated, others expunged, as each generation reshapes its legacy in line with current needs. Drawing on all the arts, the humanities and the social sciences, the author uses sources as diverse as science fiction and psychoanalysis to examine how rebellion against inherited tradition has given rise to the modern cult of preservation and pervasive nostalgia. Profusely illustrated, The Past is a Foreign Country shows that although the past has ceased to be a sanction for inherited power or privilege, as a focus of personal and national identity and as a bulwark against massive and distressing change it remains as potent a force as ever in human affairs.
 

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The book can be regarded monumental, both in its size as how it settles itself in memory. The book is often cited in for example heritage studies and the reason is clear; clear claims (for example the title) backed up with strong arguments and a bulk of examples and citations. The latter making the text too scattered and repetitive at certain places.  

Contents

RELIVING THE PAST DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES
3
NOSTALGIA
4
REPOSSESSING THE PAST
13
GOALS IN THE REVISITED PAST
21
RISKS OF REVISITING THE PAST
28
BENEFITS AND BURDENS OF THE PAST
35
BENEFITS
36
VALUED ATTRIBUTES
52
THE PAST AS EXPERIENCED AND BELIEVED
187
MEMORY
193
HISTORY
210
RELICS
238
INTERCONNECTIONS
249
CHANGING THE PAST
261
CHANGING THE PAST
263
ALTERING RELICS
265

THREATS AND EVILS
63
TRADITION AND INNOVATION
69
ANCIENTS VS MODERNS
74
THE RENAISSANCE AND THE CLASSICAL HERITAGE
75
FROM THE QUERELLE TO THE ENLIGHTENMENT
87
VICTORIAN BRITAIN
96
AMERICAN FOUNDING FATHERS AND SONS
105
THE LOOK OF AGE
125
DISTASTE FOR AGE
127
APPRECIATING THE LOOK OF AGE
148
KNOWING THE PAST
183
HOW WE KNOW THE PAST
185
ADDING TO RELICS
290
WHY WE CHANGE THE PAST
324
CREATIVE ANACHRONISM
363
DEATH AND ENDURANCE OF THE PAST
364
PASTS WE HAVE LOST
369
CONSEQUENCES OF THE LOST PAST
376
PRESERVATION
384
PASTS WE HAVE GAINED
407
CONCLUSION
410
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND CITATION INDEX
413
GENERAL INDEX
471
Copyright

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