Cover image for Jules Michelet: Writing Art and History in Nineteenth-Century France By Michèle Hannoosh

Jules Michelet

Writing Art and History in Nineteenth-Century France

Michèle Hannoosh

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$94.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-08356-8

248 pages
6" × 9"
31 b&w illustrations
2019

Jules Michelet

Writing Art and History in Nineteenth-Century France

Michèle Hannoosh

“‘History can be an aliment only when it is full as an egg,’ according to Roland Barthes’s assessment of the romantic histories of the great nineteenth-century writer Jules Michelet. Michèle Hannoosh, in her own intellectual biography of the historian, picks up a crucial ingredient of this egg that Barthes had introduced but almost put aside: Michelet’s deep indebtedness to different periods and types of visual art. Hannoosh’s book remedies this ‘lack’ by offering us a most insightful, intelligent, and imaginative account of how dependent, in many ways, his historical vision was to works of art.”

 

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Jules Michelet, one of France’s most influential historians and a founder of modern historical practice, was a passionate viewer and relentless interpreter of the visual arts. In this book, Michèle Hannoosh examines the crucial role that art writing played in Michelet’s work and shows how it decisively influenced his theory of history and his view of the practice of the historian.

The visual arts were at the very center of Michelet’s conception of historiography. He filled his private notes, public lectures, and printed books with discussions of artworks, which, for him, embodied the character of particular historical moments. Michelet believed that painting, sculpture, architecture, and engraving bore witness to histories that frequently went untold; that they expressed key ideas standing behind events; and that they articulated concepts that would come to fruition only later.

This groundbreaking reevaluation of Michelet’s approach to history elucidates how writing about art provided a model for the historian’s relation to, and interpretation of, the past, and thus for a new type of historiography—one that acknowledges and enacts the historian’s own implication in the history he or she tells.

“‘History can be an aliment only when it is full as an egg,’ according to Roland Barthes’s assessment of the romantic histories of the great nineteenth-century writer Jules Michelet. Michèle Hannoosh, in her own intellectual biography of the historian, picks up a crucial ingredient of this egg that Barthes had introduced but almost put aside: Michelet’s deep indebtedness to different periods and types of visual art. Hannoosh’s book remedies this ‘lack’ by offering us a most insightful, intelligent, and imaginative account of how dependent, in many ways, his historical vision was to works of art.”

Michèle Hannoosh is Professor of French at the University of Michigan. She is the author of, among other books, Baudelaire and Caricature: From the Comic to an Art of Modernity and translator of Eugène Delacroix’s Journey to the Maghreb and Andalusia, 1832: The Travel Notebooks and Other Writings, both published by Penn State University Press.