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The Morals of History

1995
Author:

Tzvetan Todorov
Translated by Alyson Waters

The Morals of History

Addressed to a broad audience, The Morals of History offers a wide-ranging study of the role of value judgements in culture, as Todorov explores the relationship between facts and values, truth and fiction, interpretation and articulation. Todorov studies a variety of travel narratives from those of Columbus to Amerigo Vespucci to Lamartine, and he analyzes with great clarity the writings of the "ideologues" of both colonialism and anticolonialism.

Addressed to a broad audience, The Morals of History offers a wide-ranging study of the role of value judgements in culture, as Todorov explores the relationship between facts and values, truth and fiction, interpretation and articulation. Todorov studies a variety of travel narratives from those of Columbus to Amerigo Vespucci to Lamartine, and he analyzes with great clarity the writings of the "ideologues" of both colonialism and anticolonialism.

The celebrated theorist Tzvetan Todorov offers here a thought-provoking study of the complex relationship between “ethics” and “history.” In exploring such issues as how one measures and experiences freedom in the depths of society and how one practices and assesses equality among different societies, Todorov confronts topics ranging from the conquest of America and nineteenth-century colonialism, to democracy and conflicts of the Self versus the Other.

As he probes the effects of intercultural relationships and the difficulties inherent in the representation of the Other, Todorov describes his own experience as a Bulgarian living in France. He also studies a variety of travel narratives from those of Columbus to those of Amerigo Vespucci and Lamartine, as well as analyzes with great clarity the writings of the “ideologues” of both colonialism and anticolonialism.

Addressed to a broad audience, The Morals of History will intrigue readers interested in contemporary discussions about the outcome of democracy and the future of late capitalism, the persistence of a logic of conquest and ethnocentrism, and the signs that point to emerging fascisms.

The Morals of History

Born and educated in Sofia, Bulgaria, Tzvetan Todorov draws upon Slavic as well as French, German, and Anglo-American traditions of literary theory. He is Maitre de Recherches at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris and has lectured at various North American Universities. Among his books available in English are The Poetics of Prose and The Fantastic; A Structural

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