The distinguished British historian Simon Schama, renowned for his classics The Embarassment of Riches (1987) and Landscape and Memory (1995), has changed the way in which Dutch people perceive themselves and their history. Currently, he is preparing the second part for publication of The Story of the Jews, based on his landmark documentary series for the BBC and laying bare the inextricable connections between Jewish history and our cultural heritage. Simon Schama will devote his Nexus Lecture ‘History Lessons’ to the question why history matters in terms of knowledge and wisdom. In conversation with Rob Riemen for Nexus 65, The University of Life, Schama observed:
“I see it as my duty to pass on what it means to be human with all the resources at my disposal. History wears a tragic face. And if we do not understand the full complexity of what human society is, the way it behaves and what human society is capable of, we do not really understand what the stakes about are and the real battle is. My work as an historian has been honourable in the sense that it allowed me being a gadfly, being a thorn in the sight of complacency and the powerful.”
Simon Schama on History Lessons
Simon Schama illustrates with great passion what historians should accomplish to captivate the common reader, the student and the professional. For if we do not cherish our past, and pass on the chain of memory, we might encounter the cultural lobotomy presented in Orwell’s ’1984’.