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"It is a black art, the writing of a history, is it not?" That is how Martha Peake's book begins, but to what does the black art refer? Is it hard to write about history, or what? I would be surprised if it had something to do with medieval times and all the magic that took place at that moment.
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I think it refers to the occult and gothic trends, like in black magic... Maybe other members will be more helpful...
Zerox"It is a black art, the writing of a history, is it not?" That is how Martha Peake's book begins, but to what does the black art refer? Is it hard to write about history, or what? I would be surprised if it had something to do with medieval times and all the magic that took place at that moment.
I've not read the book, so I can't say for sure. However, if this is the beginning of the book, the rest of the first paragraph should be supportive of such a statement. Perhaps 'black' here means 'difficult'. Pieanne's suggestion is a good one, except that the time period of 1700's rules out the medieval times idea.
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Zerox"It is a black art, the writing of a history, is it not?" That is how Martha Peake's book begins, but to what does the black art refer? Is it hard to write about history, or what? I would be surprised if it had something to do with medieval times and all the magic that took place at that moment.
It is nothing to do with mediaevel times. It is suggesting that the art of writing history is a process that is difficult to master and that it is somewhat mysterious.
Unfortunately, I can't give more context, since the author has cited that exact part from the book. And I had a tiny oversight; the book's name is Martha Peake, not the writer's.Emotion: smile
Black art is defined as witchcraft, sorcery, black magic. It makes sense when the author says: "It is a black art, the writing of a history, is it not?". Sounds like a metaphor to me. I could be wrong because I haven't read the book.
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The "black arts" involve the use of sorcery and the harnessing of malevolent powers.

The speaker uses the phrase metaphorically.

MrP
So just to make this sure since this is actually kind of an important issue for me. I would have thought that it means it is hard to write about the history, however, it looks like I was wrong. Therefore, sorry for being a bit stubborn at the moment, but I can't quite understand the metaphorical meaning. Writing about history is just like practising black art, no?[:^)]
Not exactly as metaphor is not direct comparison but simply a reference to another object. You can put it this way: "writing history is like magic", "can be compared to magic", etc. because basically when you're writing something as big and important as that you know it's going to influence people this way or another.
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