Inheriting Antiquity: Political Genealogy in Disraeli and Renouvier
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This chapter focuses on alternate histories which describe revised genealogies of culture and politics from antiquity to the present day. In The Wondrous Tale of Alroy (1833) , Benjamin Disraeli inserts an apocryphal episode into twelfth-century Jewish history, which implies a messianic legacy to be redeemed by him, as a writer and politician. Charles Renouvier also reimagines the cultural and political inheritance of antiquity in Uchronie (l’utopie dans l’histoire) (1876) , but uses the presentation of a better, more secular history of Europe to argue for the separation of Church and State, and against a philosophy of history predicated on the inevitability of progress. The contexts for the discussion are the transformations of historical interpretation and ideas regarding the evolutionary progress of mankind.