This book is about being there: about the nature of past lives at a time remote from the present. It tries to capture something not only of the central concerns but also of the many-sidedness and frequent messiness of existence. It seeks to show how we can avoid reducing social existence, and the people who constituted that, to a single dimension. It is about different ways of looking at scales of action and thought, which resist the common tactics of choosing one scale over another or of lapsing into unhelpful abstraction. In taking this theme, I hope also to open fresh ways of looking at the recurrent tensions between the individual and the collective, diversity and uniformity, and change and stability.