The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, Volume II
History News Network
Ernest Renan, the 19th century French historian, said “the historian is the enemy of the nation.” I often ask students, what does he mean by that? What he’s saying is nations are built on myths, historical myths, and then the historian comes along and if he’s doing his job, shatters those myths, and often that makes the historian very unpopular. People like their myths but “myth” is not a good way of understanding how the society developed to where it is today.
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