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New Left Review 1, January-February 2000

Luisa Passerini defends her retrieval of inter-war ideas of the unity of European culture and politics, without reference to post-war sequels, as a safeguard of actual discontinuities. Timothy Bewes argues for the difficulties of this way of looking at a past that has not gone away.



Luisa Passerini is committed to a method that looks at ‘the silences and the oblivions of history’ as closely as, or more closely than, the manifest continuities. Her response to my review of her book Europe in Love, Love in Europe, like the book itself, is fascinating and illuminating as much for what it omits as for what it states explicitly. The clarification that she offers of the methodological assumptions of her style of cultural history is very welcome, and I am glad to have this opportunity to respond to it. Passerini is an authentic and rigorous scholar; her theoretical consistency is unquestionable, as demonstrated in her reply above; and her refusal to wrench the subjects of her research violently out of context is irreproachable. Scholarly propriety is, in fact, the principal theme of her response; thus her ‘puzzlement’ at my quotation of Burckhardt from a secondary source should certainly be read as a polite reproach.

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Timothy Bewes, ‘Sqeamishness and Scholarly Rigour’, NLR 1: £3

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