[FOUNTAIN]As History Flows Through TimeChildren like to hear old tales. "Once upon a time" starts enchanting stories around the world, lighting up children's eyes as they instantly fall into a fantasy world.
However, these same children grow up to dislike history courses when they get to middle school or high school. They hate world history courses the most. These students tire of long and strange names and historical figures and are overwhelmed by the endless chronologies they have to memorize.
Can history be taught enjoyably the way grandmothers tell children those old tales?
Apparently, the answer is yes. A book that narrates history grandmother's way has become a huge success. The book, "A Short World History For Young Readers," is available in Korea.
Ernst Hans J. Gombrich published this book in 1935 when he was a 25-year-old artist, and it became a best-seller, being translated into five languages.
The book is loved by readers around the world. In 1985, the 50-year anniversary of the first edition, a revised and enlarged edition was published. As its original name indicates, the book is an introduction to history. Departing from the usual politics-oriented approach, the book narrates various aspects of human history, including its religious, cultural and scientific aspects, through storytelling.
Following up on the success of his history book, in 1950, Gombrich published a book considered a masterpiece on art history. The book received additional attention because of its title, "Story of Art," instead of "History of Art." This shows Gombrich's view that history is not a mere array of objective facts, but subjective stories organized by the writer.
Gombrich was born Jewish in Vienna in 1909 and studied art history at the University of Vienna. In 1936, he fled to Britain to escape the Nazi's oppression. From 1959 to 1976, Gombrich was head of the Warburg Institute, and he spent his entire life studying art history. Ernst H. Gombrich died Monday at age 92.
In the epilogue of "A Short World History," Gombrich raises a question on human existence. "We are nothing but tiny fragile drops of water and will be swept away by the vast wave of time in the end," he wrote. "Would our destiny be no more than the futile struggle of drops of water trying to resist the wave? But, let's save and use this moment of time. It must be worthwhile to make the effort."
As we live in a tough and confusing world, the topic of "a drop of water" should be worthy of appreciation.
The writer is a Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Yoo Jae-sik