The most numerous moments are the discomfort, the fatigue of a forced march through a grim historical region of petty and faded motives, one that is in fact too close to the historian-traveller. This is what Michelet calls 'rowing' ('I am rowing through Loius XI. I am rowing through Louis XIV. I swim laboriously. I am rowing vigorously through Richelieu and the Fronde'). Yet the plunge involves an incomplete assimilation of History, a failed nutrition, as if the body, thrust into an element where it does not breathe, found itself stifled by the very proximity of space.
- Roland Barthes, Michelet, p.22