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By Gary Vikan

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The historian can therefore clothe an event with meaning in at least three ways—by means of structure, synchrony, and diachrony. His analysis will remain incomplete as long as he makes no serious attempt to reconstruct those different levels and styles of ascribing meaning. 28 prologue For the historian a human life, like an event, has no autonomous signiÀcance. A person attributes meaning to his life through interaction with his environment and with all those who sooner or later pass judgment on it.

When he had completed his elementary schooling he went to work as a tailor’s apprentice for one Master Gijsbert Aelbertsz. Orphanage and workplace were two separate but complementary worlds. The pamphlet records that Evert was seriously ill for some time [see Fig. 15]. Scarcely had he recovered when he fell sick once more, and this time both body and spirit were affected. For nine days, from June 21 to 30, 1622 he neither ate nor drank. This was truly curious behavior in an orphanage full of bubbling youth, and it left Evert peculiarly isolated.

A deterministic approach to a person’s development would ignore the possibility—open to every human being—of making choices and changes. The aim of this book is not to arrive at a rigid unity of personality that would deÀne an entire life’s mission, but rather to bring to light the delicate threads connecting various expressions of life, often hugely different but always forming part of one person, and thus to reveal both the wealth of available choices and the limitations imposed by circumstance on the realization of these choices.

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Byzantine Pilgrimage Art by Gary Vikan


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