Jump to Navigation

The Past of the Future: From the Foreign to the Undiscovered Country

Print this article   Email this article
David Lowenthal argues that in recent years there has been a retreat from engagement with many aspects of the past. He suggests that, in turn, this points to an unwillingness to contend with the future.

'The past is a foreign country’, begins L. P. Hartley’s The Go-Between (1953); ‘they do things differently there’. The dawning awareness of that difference some two centuries ago and its subsequent import have engrossed many historians.  Less explored than shifting views on the past are foci on the future. What seems to lie ahead stems from, mirrors, or transmutes reactions to previous times. Both past and future have notably expanded in Western consciousness since about 1750. Over the next two centuries, the collective annals of memory and anticipation lengthened exponentially, grew more copious and capacious, and resembled the present ever less.


 This article is available to History Today online subscribers only. If you are a subscriber, please log in.

Please choose one of these options to access this article:

Call our Subscriptions department on +44 (0)20 3219 7813 for more information.

If you are logged in but still cannot access the article, please contact us

About Us | Contact Us | Advertising | Subscriptions | Newsletter | RSS Feeds | Ebooks | Podcast | Submitting an Article
Copyright 2012 History Today Ltd. All rights reserved.