"Bias, point of view, fury--are they ... so dangerous and must they be ironed out of history, the hills flattened and the contours leveled? The professors talk ... about passion and point of view in history as a Calvinist talks about sin in the bedroom."
"History is not a book, arbitrarily divided into chapters, or a drama chopped into separate acts: it has flowed forward. Rome is a continuity, called "eternal." What has accumulated in this place acts on everyone, day and night, like an extra climate."
"As a novelist, I cannot occupy myself with "characters," or at any rate central ones, who lack panache, in one or another sense, who would be incapable of a major action or a major passion, or who have not a touch of the ambiguity, the ultimate unaccountability, the enlarging mistiness of persons "in history." History, as more austerely I now know it, is not romantic. But I am."
"Positively I sit here, and look at Europe sink, first one deck disappearing, then another, and the whole ship slowly plunging bow-down into the abyss; until the nightmare gets to be howling. The Roman Empire was a trifle to it."
"Supposing the Mechanical Phase to have lasted 300 years, from 1600 to 1900, the next or Electric Phase would have a life equal to (the square root of 300), or about seventeen years and a half, when--that is, in 1917Mit would pass into another or Ethereal Phase, which, for half a century, science has been promising, and which would last only (the square root of 17.5), or about four years, and bring Thought to the limit of its possibilities in the year 1921. It may well be!"
"Measured by any standard known to science--by horse-power, calories, volts, mass in any shape,--the tension and vibration and volume and so-called progression of society were full a thousand times greater in 1900 than in 1800;Mthe force had doubled ten times over, and the speed, when measured by electrical standards as in telegraphy, approached infinity, and had annihilated both space and time. No law of material movement applied to it."
"The great word Evolution had not yet, in 1860, made a new religion of history, but the old religion had preached the same doctrine for a thousand years without finding in the entire history of Rome anything but flat contradiction."
"It is important to note that multiculturalism does not share the postmodernist stance. Its passions are political; its assumptions empirical; its conception of identities visceral. For it, there is no doubting that history is something that happened and that those happenings have left their mark within our collective consciousness. History for multiculturalists is not a succession of dissolving texts, but a tense tangle of past actions that have reshaped the landscape, distributed the nation's wealth, established boundaries, engendered prejudices, and unleashed energies."
"History, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in.... I read it a little as a duty; but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars and pestilences in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all."
"It is beyond a doubt that during the sixteenth century, and the years immediately preceding and following it, poisoning had been brought to a pitch of perfection which remains unknown to modern chemistry, but which is indisputably proved by history. Italy, the cradle of modern science, was at that time, the inventor and mistress of these secrets, many of which are lost."
"In France, and at the most important period of our history, Catherine de' Medici has suffered more from popular error than any other woman, unless it be Brunehaut or Frédégonde; while Marie de' Medici, whose every action was prejudicial to France, has escaped the disgrace that should cover her name.... Catherine de' Medici ... saved the throne of France, she maintained [the] Royal authority under circumstances to which more than one great prince would have succumbed. Face to face with such leaders of the factions and ambitions of the houses of Guise and of Bourbon as the two Cardinals de Lorraine and the two "Balafrès," the two Princes de Condé, Queen Jeanne d'Albret, Henri IV, the Connétable de Montmorency, Calvin, the Colignys and Théodore de Bèze, she was forced to put forth the rarest fine qualities, the most essential gifts of statesmanship, under the fire of the Calvinist press."