"In how few words, for instance, the Greeks would have told the story of Abelard and Heloise, making but a sentence of our classical dictionary.... We moderns, on the other hand, collect only the raw materials of biography and history, "memoirs to serve for a history," which is but materials to serve for a mythology."
"Critical acumen is exerted in vain to uncover the past; the past cannot be presented; we cannot know what we are not. But one veil hangs over past, present, and future, and it is the province of the historian to find out, not what was, but what is. Where a battle has been fought, you will find nothing but the bones of men and beasts; where a battle is being fought, there are hearts beating."
"History has neither the venerableness of antiquity, nor the freshness of the modern. It does as if it would go to the beginning of things, which natural history might with reason assume to do; but consider the Universal History, and then tell us,--when did burdock and plantain sprout first?"
"Every town which we passed, if we may believe the Gazetteer, had been the residence of some great man. But though we knocked at many doors, and even made particular inquiries, we could not find that there were any now living."
"Why does he not know how to select servants? The ordinary procedure of the nineteenth century is that when a powerful and noble personage encounters a man of feeling, he kills, exiles, imprisons or so humiliates him that the other, like a fool, dies of grief."
"A strange effect of marriage, such as the nineteenth century has made it! The boredom of married life inevitably destroys love, when love has preceded marriage. And yet, as a philosopher has observed, it speedily brings about, among people who are rich enough not to have to work, an intense boredom with all quiet forms of enjoyment. And it is only dried up hearts, among women, that it does not predispose to love."
"The history is always the same the product is always different and the history interests more than the product. More, that is, more. Yes. But if the product was not different the history which is the same would not be more interesting."
"... there was the first Balkan war and the second Balkan war and then there was the first world war. It is extraordinary how having done a thing once you have to do it again, there is the pleasure of coincidence and there is the pleasure of repetition, and so there is the second world war, and in between there was the Abyssinian war and the Spanish civil war."
"The French Revolution, Fichte's Theory of Knowledge, and Goethe's Wilhelm Meister are the three greatest tendencies of the age. Whoever takes offence at this combination, and whoever does not consider a revolution important unless it is blatant and palpable, has not yet risen to the lofty and broad vantage point of the history of mankind."
"The two basic maxims of the so-called historical criticism are the postulate of the common and the axiom of the ordinary. Postulate of the common: everything really great, good, and beautiful, is improbable, since it is extraordinary and therefore at least suspect. Axiom of the ordinary: our conditions and environment must have existed everywhere, for they are really so natural."
"Science and Technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition and myth frame our response. Expelled from individual consciousness by the rush of change, history finds its revenge by stamping the collective unconscious with habits, values, expectations, dreams. The dialectic between past and future will continue to form our lives."