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About this book

What is Europe? A continent? A political institution? A cultural community? Bringing together 101 key texts on the theme of European identity, this reader provides essential insights into the idea of 'Europe', from 450 BC to the twenty first century. The only collection of its kind in English, it includes rare and newly translated material alongside classic texts from antiquity and the Enlightenment, from figures as diverse as Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Winston Churchill and Julia Kristeva. Space is also given to views of Europe from the outside, including Asian, African, Latin American, US and Caribbean authors. With an introductory overview, notes on each text, and a guide to further reading, Alex Drace-Francis brings issues of European identity into sharp relief for both teachers and students of European history, geography, culture and politics.

Table of Contents

1. Antiquity

Abstract
The so-called father of History, Herodotus originated — like the later ‘father of geography’, Strabo — from the west coast of Anatolia (today’s Turkey). He left us a set of Histories in Ionian Greek, written some time in the second half of the 5th century BCE (c. 450–420). These, besides dealing with political-military events such as the Greco-Persian Wars, seek to investigate aspects of the geography, customs and culture of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean worlds. His description of ‘Europe’ is relatively neutral, and the category does not seem to be of essential importance, although Herodotus did draw boundaries between the cultures of the North and those of the South.
Alex Drace-Francis

2. Middle Ages

Abstract
St. Jerome (c. 347–420), a theologian and the patron saint of translators, was one of the few early Latin scholars with a good knowledge of Hebrew, and also one of the first to attempt to ‘map’ the descendants of Noah and identify them with modern European peoples, as is shown in this extract from his commentary on the book of Genesis. For Jerome, the peoples of Europe were limited to seven in number — and in the case of the Cappadocians, actually settled in Asia Minor, whose eastern limits he takes care to demarcate.
Alex Drace-Francis

3. Renaissance

Abstract
Little is known about the early sixteenth-century German scholar Johann Boehm. But his significance is widely recognized, especially for the works he published under his Latin name, Joannes Boemus, which attempt to gather and collate knowledge not just abut geography, but also about ethnography. In his 1520 work on ‘the customs, laws and rites of all peoples’, he dedicates twice as much space to Europe as to Asia (and very little to Africa). This extract constitutes his synoptic account of Europe and its qualities. Some elements are borrowed from older writers (e.g. Isidore of Seville), while others are quite original.
Alex Drace-Francis

4. Enlightenment

Abstract
In the eighteenth century, many Western travellers commented on the Ottoman Empire and its belonging or otherwise to the European space. Much fewer texts shed light on Ottoman attitudes to Europe. But the Ottoman History of Demetrius Cantemir (1673–1723), a deposed Moldavian prince who spent most of his early life in Istanbul but ended up in exile in Russia, does precisely this.
Alex Drace-Francis

5. Romanticism

Abstract
Friedrich von Hardenberg (1772–1801) is better known under his pen name Novalis as a key early exponent of German Romanticism. His text ‘Christendom or Europe’ was first delivered as an address in 1799 but was considered too controversial for immediate publication and did not see the light of day until 1826, and then in truncated form. In it, Novalis judges the effects of the Enlightenment and Revolution on European society much more harshly than Herder; his picture of Europe’s medieval legacy, though somewhat idealized, did not imply a literal return to pre-Reformation European norms but rather a study of religion and its role in maintaining social bonds.
Alex Drace-Francis

6. Modernity

Abstract
If Victor Hugo spent 1849 imagining a future Europe being born, in the following year Russian emigré Alexander Herzen (1812–1870) diagnosed what he called ‘the old, official Europe’ as suffering from a fatal illness. He was prepared to credit European history with ‘development, transformation, growth’, in the passage from the Middle Ages to the modern period; but in the post-1815 era he saw only ossified forms of cultural life. The theme of ‘dying Europe’, which implied the need for schemes of regeneration, can be found in earlier writers (e.g. Schmidt-Phiseldek, above) and would prove increasingly popular in the century and a half after Herzen wrote.
Alex Drace-Francis

7. Post-War

Abstract
If Churchill’s most famous speeches are those from the beginning of World War Two, this one from shortly after its end is widely considered to be one of the most important mobilising statements preceding the establishment of the European Community. However, although Churchill backed the European cause when out of government in the period after 1945, when he became Prime Minister again in 1951 his views were somewhat more reticent.
Alex Drace-Francis
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