chapter  11
Historians in Fiction and Film
Pages 18

Historians have always featured in the intellectual and cultural life of societies, whether they are preindustrial hunting-and-gathering societies or settled and modern civilizations. In preindustrial cultures, both those that were tribal and local as well as vast civilizations, they were storytellers: people who were central to the construction of the ‘human’ and who narrated the history of the nation both to the culture in which they were situated and to the broader world. In the classical period of Greek culture, historians appeared as major intellectual fi gures like Herodotus (ca. 484425, the ‘father of history’) and Thucydides (ca. 460-395) who both elaborated the national narratives for their respective cultures. Subsequently, in Western culture historians played a major role in the telling of history and providing historical paradigms within which intellectuals and the political classes debated history, philosophy and revolution. Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), Karl Marx (1818-1893), Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886), Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975), Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), Marc Bloch (1886-1944), Paul Kennedy (1945-) and Simon Schama (1945-) are a few in a much larger sample from the modern era who have performed these functions. But in the wider culture outside the realms of the intellectual classes and the walls of academe, how have historians been perceived, and how have these crucial fi gures of the world of ideas been portrayed?