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I discovered this paragraph on the very beautiful blog about the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke: ‘A Year With Rilke’ – at http://yearwithrilke.blogspot.com/ . It echoes  my thoughts on thinking about, reading and writing History.  History is about ourselves. Now. It is about the way we see the past and how it affects our present and  future. The people, now dead, who lived in the past –  their experiences, how they ate, slept, fought and played with one another – are part of our formation. Rilke wrote:

Even the next era has no right to judge anything if it lacks the ability to contemplate the past without hatred or envy. But even that judgment would be one-sided, for every subsequent era is the fruit of previous periods and carries much of the past within it. It is fortunate if something of the ancestors lives on in it and continues to be loved and protected; only then does the past become fruitful and effective. *Early Journals*