Simon Schama, 2001 recipient of the Saint Louis Library Associates Literary
Award, has in his writing, gathered together not only our actions, and
thoughts: he has understood society's hopes and dreams, which we have
not had the strength to realize. As a writer, teacher, researcher,
and above all, an intellectual, Simon Schama is taking his place at
the forefront of our greatest thinkers.
His work has been
highly praised for its experimental attitude and its attempt to trace
the growth of personal moral responsibility within a democratic society.
Schama has masterfully questioned the rigid concepts of historical
reality, to which historians have owed a great deal.
In his revolutionary
approach, Simon Schama has shown his readers, listeners and viewers,
a world that is simply far more mysterious and uncertain, and at the
same time more exciting, and still, despite its raw violence and capriciousness,
In his earlier works,
particularly "Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution,"
Schama shares with us his ability to see Europe and America with an
awareness of their rich diversity and their fluidity and freedom. His
readers are consequently enabled to conceive of a narrative of history
unburdened by narrow categories.
Schama does this
with a prose that is flexible, and swift as historical change is swift,
confronting the inequalities and brutalities of the societies of France
forthrightly, yet thrusting forth images of hope, human fraternity,
and individual self-realization. He has developed a prose style
that makes use of the richness of our speech, the idiomatic expression,
and the rhetorical flourishes from past periods that are still alive
among us. Schama's works, whilst intellectually rigorous, negotiate
between the familiar and the strange, and wonderfully mix the analytical
and the romantic.