“The Only Thing We Learn,” Cyril M. Kornbluth, 1949 – Young gentlemen studying epic poetry in “Archeo-Literature 203” try to reconstruct a turning point in their empire’s past. Their professor suggests that the past can only be known through direct experience, that the fiction that has survived is compromised, and that the distinction between heroes and villains is not always clear.
Comments: Reminded me somewhat of Atwood’s depiction of historical analysis by academia much later in The Handmaid’s Tale. Read in The Classic Book of Science Fiction, ed. Conklin. Online text, with an introduction by Jerry Pournelle which notes that Kornbluth was a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, “where he received injuries that ultimately killed him. Kornbluth’s reflections on the only thing we learn from history were written shortly after that War.”
Author: Wikipedia: “Cyril M. Kornbluth (July 2, 1923 – March 21, 1958) was an American science fiction author and a notable member of the Futurians.” Interested readers: “Re-reading Kornbluth” by Robert Silverberg.