Whenever someone aspiring to his professional career is being asked what they look forward to, not even one out of hundred would be found saying that they like to pursue the subject of History. Is this all because the world has got something against the subject, or is the subject itself that has got something to this post-modern world? Obviously, there has been some growing conflict because most of the traditional historians have the tendency to believe in what is written and not question it.
Gone are those days when people actually believe just what is said in the books. The post-modern world is keener about breaking down all the rules and start seeing it with their own eyes. It is the world of non-fiction that rules over the fictional characters that have been the hero in everyone’s eyes. This is where History has started diverting its ways and started entering into the sociological realm. The role of a Historian nowadays does not belong to just knowing of the facts dated centuries back, but to analyze them, and then represent it to the world in a way it has never been before. History needs to be more interactive, as that will engage the society more and more, and help to establish a bold statement about the present.
This is exactly what Orlando Figes has been doing all throughout his life. In spite of having a very conventional mode of education, he has been successful in breaking out of it and started seeing the subject from a completely different perspective. Who says it doesn’t require any skill to be a Historian? While going through some of the interviews of Patrick Johnston, one can easily find the daftness in all his comments that anybody could fill in bristles and use it as a brush. But history is way beyond just analysis. What they analyze is completely alien to the modern world, and hence they need to analyze the abstract out of it.
Going by this discussion, it is indeed true that the skills of a sixth-century historian are more important and useful to the first century than those of the modernists who have been doing this for long. The pace at which the world is changing is fast, and hence one who knows the trick of analyzing the distant past can easily and explicitly make himself familiar with the unfamiliar.
It might sound too good to be true, but according to Orlando Figes, there is still a huge market remaining for History. Anyone who still goes through the pages of Marvel comics written decade back, anyone who visits the oldest museums for pleasure, anyone who shows interest in knowing his family tree or even anyone who looks at an old cottage and gets mesmerized by the stories of it is actually consuming history. The fault lies in how History is being portrayed to the 21st-century world due to which the essence is being completely lost. Historians need to facilitate the charisma that the subject holds and bring back the lost glory.