This guest column comprises both a review of the English translation of Carlo Ginzburg's book Threads and Traces: True False Fictive (2012) and some general comments on the merits and demerits of microhistory as a genre poised between historical writing and fiction. The column is published in the context of two others regarding this latter topic — one by Natalie Zemon Davis, the author of the microhistorical classic The Return of Martin Guerre, and one by Colin Richmond. Davis's column is a response to Keith Thomas's having drawn approving attention to the following remark of J. H. Elliott's: “Something is amiss when the name of Martin Guerre threatens to become better known than that of Martin Luther.” In the present piece, Thomas writes of Ginzburg, a founder of Italian microhistory, that he is more a “European intellectual” than a “mere historian,” the difference being that the former is less interested in history per se than in fields like anthropology, philosophy, and literary theory. Thomas's column expresses doubt about the intellectual restlessness of historians like Ginzburg and about the preparation of microhistorians to write constantly on topics new to them, but it claims as well that Ginzburg's “combination of erudition and piercing intelligence is irresistible.”

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