ABSTRACT

The understanding Perez Zagorin has of postmodernism and history – which he correctly thinks is typical of that held by most of his professional colleagues – is actually a misreading which deserves to be closely examined. I shall show that actually reading postmodernism and history “correctly” affords Zagorin and those who might agree with him even less comfort than reading it “wrong.” Reading things “right” (and in the context of helping insure that despite the failure of the first experiment of the emancipatory project of modernity, the “discourse of emancipation” is not forgotten) suggests that the end of history would be “a good thing.” Of course, trying to reach this upbeat conclusion in favor not of postmodern history but of a postmodernism sans histoire when starting from a critique of this whole phenomenon involves risks. Initially, at least, it allows Zagorin to set the agenda, thus, for example, possibly pushing me into too defensive a stance. But as my arguments develop I hope to break free from too myopic an encounter with Zagorin’s obsessions as I move towards that positive reading of postmodernism for which I shall be striving.