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International Journal of Literary Culture / Internationale Zeitschrift für literarische Kultur

Ed. by Biti, Vladimir / Liska, Vivian

CiteScore 2018: 0.12

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.122
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.329

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Volume 38, Issue 2


The Practical Use of Historiography: from Haffner to Herodotus

Irene J. F De Jong
Published Online: 2008-02-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arca.38.2.325


In 1938 a young German civil servant flees to England in order to be able to marry a Jewish wife. He takes on a pseudonym, Sebastian Haffner, and writes a brief but trenchant introduction to his country, called Germany: Jekyll and Hyde (published in 1940; translated into German in 1996). Its purpose is to provide his new compatriots with accurate information about the enemy, to be used for propagandistic purposes, or, as he himself writes, in the graphic style which would become his hallmark:

This book attempts to do for British and French propaganda what the aerial photographs of the Siegfried line and its ‘Hinterland’, brought back by reconnaissance aircraft, achieve for British and French artillery. Propaganda hitherto has shot far less accurately than artillery. It obviously lacks a clear view of its target. (1940: 10)

In other words, impelled by the course of history to become a historian, Haffner undertakes historiography not for academic but for practical reasons. Indeed, he would never become a professional historian but worked his whole life (1907–1999) as a journalist and publicist.

About the article

Published Online: 2008-02-27

Published in Print: 2003-10-14

Citation Information: Arcadia – International Journal for Literary Studies, Volume 38, Issue 2, Pages 325–328, ISSN (Online) 1613-0642, ISSN (Print) 0003-7982, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arca.38.2.325.

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