Reflections on Temporal Perspective: The Use and Abuse of Hindsight

In this article I focus on the temporal aspects of the historian's situation: being in the present and representing the past. Writing is a time-bound process. It is in this context that the notion of temporal perspective arises. What follows is a series of reflections, variations on the theme, perhaps, of temporal perspective as it figures in historical writing. The concept of hindsight figures prominently in these reflections. I also deal with examples of superimposed chronology that sometimes result from temporal perspective. My reflections avoid grand conclusions about time and history. I hope they may instead cast some modest light on the issues.