Georg Lukà cs (1885- 1971) is now recognized as one of the most innovative and best-informed literary critics of the twentieth century. Trained in the German philosophic tradition of Kant, Hegel, and Marx, he escaped Nazi persecution by fleeing to the Soviet Union in 1933. There he faced a new set of problems: Stalinist dogmatism about ......
This volume explores the genre of the historical novel and the variety of ways in which writers choose to represent the past. How does an author's nationality or gender impact their artistic choices? To what extent can historical novels appeal to a transnational audience? This study demonstrates how histories can communicate across national borders, often by invoking or deconstructing the very notion of nationhood. Furthermore, it traces how the concerns of the postmodern era, such as postmodern critiques of historiography, colonialism, identity, and the Enlightenment, have impacted the genre of the historical novel, and shows this impact has not been uniform throughout Western culture. Not all historical novels written during the postmodern era are postmodern. The historical novel as a genre occupies a problematic, yet significant space in Cold War literary currents, torn between claims of authenticity and the impossibility of accessing the past. Historical novels from England, America, Germany, and France are compared and contrasted with historical novels from Sweden, testing a variety of theoretical perspectives in the process. This pitting of a center against a periphery serves to highlight traits that historical novels from the West have in common, but also how they differ. The historical novel is not just a local, regional phenomenon, but has become, during the postmodern era, a transnational tool for exploring how we should think of nations and nationalism and what a society should, or should not, look like.
The historical novel has had a very interesting history itself. During the 19th century the historical novels of Scott, Hugo, Thackeray, Dickens, Tolstoy and a host of other writers enjoyed both popular success and critical admiration. Success has never really died out, but admiration has been another matter. During the 20th century, historical fiction began to be disparaged by critics who looked down on the genre and its elements of romance, adventure and swashbuckling. This disparagement reached such a pitch that Robert Graves, author of I, Claudius and Claudius the God, felt compelled to say that he wrote these novels only because of pressing financial needs. As the century wore on, the genre began to move in a variety of interesting ways and reached even larger audiences. Some critics have continued to look down on the genre, but a growing number of historical novels have begun to receive wide critical praise. The Roman historian Ronald Syme once wrote that narrative is the essence of history. What is the essence of historical fiction? Why does it continue to be such a popular and resilient genre? What is the history of historical fiction? What is its future?
Georg Lukacs (1885-1971) is now recognized as one of the most innovative and best-informed literary critics of the twentieth century. Trained in the German philosophic tradition of Kant, Hegel, and Marx, he escaped Nazi persecution by fleeing to the Soviet Union in 1933. There he faced a new set of problems: Stalinist dogmatism about literature and literary criticism. Maneuvering between the obstacles of censorship, he wrote and published his longest work of literary criticism, "The Historical Novel," in 1937. Beginning with the novels of Sir Walter Scott, "The Historical Novel" documents the evolution of a genre that came to dominate European fiction in the years after Napoleon. The novel had reached a point at which it could be socially and politically critical as well as psychologically insightful. Lukacs devotes his final chapter to the anti-Nazi fiction of Germany and Austria.
This is a postmodernist history of the historical novel with special attention to the political implications of the postmodernist attitude toward the past. Beginning with the poetics of Sir Walter Scott, Wesseling moves via a global survey of 19th century historical fiction to modernist innovations in the genre. Noting how the self-reflexive strategy enables a novelist to represent an episode from the past alongside the process of gathering and formulating historical knowledge, the author discusses the elaboration of this strategy, introduced by novelists such as Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner, in the work of, among others, Julian Barnes, Jay Cantor, Robert Coover and Graham Swift.Wesseling also shows how postmodernist writers attempt to envisage alternative sequences for historical events. Deliberately distorting historical facts, authors of such uchronian fiction, like Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael R. Read, Salman Rushdie and Gunter Grass, imagine what history looks like from the perspective of the losers, rather than the winners.
Gale Researcher Guide for: The Creation of the Historical Novel: Sir Walter Scott's Waverley Novels is selected from Gale's academic platform Gale Researcher. These study guides provide peer-reviewed articles that allow students early success in finding scholarly materials and to gain the confidence and vocabulary needed to pursue deeper research.
Cowart presents a study of international historical fiction since World War II, with reflections on the affinities between historical and fictional narrative, analysis of the basic modes of historical fiction, and readings of a number of historical novels, including John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor, Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian, Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa’s The Leopard, D. M. Thomas’s The White Hotel, William Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses, and Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. He proposes recognizing four modes of the historical novel: the past as a "distant mirror" of the present, fictions whose authors seek to pinpoint the precise historical moment when the modern age or some prominent feature of it came into existence, fictions whose authors aspire purely or largely to historical verisimilitude, and fictions whose authors reverse history to contemplate utopia and dystopia in the future. Thus, historical fiction can be organized under the rubrics: The Distant Mirror; The Turning Point; The Way It Was; and The Way It Will Be. This fourfold schema and his focus on postwar novels set Cowart’s work apart from previous studies, which have not devoted adequate space to the contemporary historical novel. Cowart argues that postwar historical fiction merits more extensive treatment because it is the product of an age unique in the annals of history—an age in which history itself may end.
Christoph Ransmayr, Daniel Kehlmann, Wolfgang Hildesheimer
Author: David Blustein
Postmodernism, an aesthetic movement that rejects modernist dogmas, emerged in the U.S.A. in the 1960s and became, over the last decades of the twentieth century, the paradigmatic aesthetic in architecture, literature and the arts. Postmodernism also created the conditions for a renaissance of the historical novel. However, the postmodern historical novel now constitutes a new form of the genre which confronts the dominant discourses with parody, irony and skepticism. This new form does not limit itself to narratives situated in a realist historical setting. Rather, it questions the validity and, consequently, the very nature of historical discourse, problematizing and often foregrounding the process of interpretation and reconstruction of the past. In this manner, contemporary historical fiction reflects current debates about the forms of historiography, debates triggered by the work of Hayden White. The 1980s saw a renewed flowering of historical fiction in the German cultural space and elsewhere. This paper examines postmodern forms of historical fiction through an analysis of three postmodern historical novels in the German language published between 1981 and 2005: Christoph Ransmayr's Die Schrecken des Eises und der Finsternis, Daniel Kehlmann's Die Vermessung der Welt and Wolfgang Hildesheimer's Marbot: Eine Biographie. The analysis is based upon various models of postmodern fiction, in particular Ansgar Nünning's five level categorization schema of the historical novel. This paper illustrates the extent to which these novels deploy postmodern stylistic devices and comment critically and comically upon German and Austrian history and culture.
Welcome to the Essential Novelists book series, were we present to you the best works of remarkable authors. For this book, the literary critic August Nemo has chosen the two most important and meaningful novels of Walter Scott wich are Ivanhoe and Guy Mannering. Sir Walter Scott was a Scottish novelist, poet, historian, and biographer who is often considered both the inventor and the greatest practitioner of the historical novel. Scott's knowledge of history, and his facility with literary technique, made him a seminal figure in the establishment of the historical novel genre, as well as an exemplar of European literary Romanticism. Scott is always surprising. In Ivanhoe he makes Isaac of York one of the first non-satirical, non-stereotypical Jewish characters in fiction. Novels selected for this book: - Ivanhoe. - Guy Mannering.This is one of many books in the series Essential Novelists. If you liked this book, look for the other titles in the series, we are sure you will like some of the authors.
The History of Henry Esmond is a historical novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, originally published in 1852. The book tells the story of the early life of Henry Esmond, a colonel in the service of Queen Anne of England. A typical example of Victorian historical novels, Thackeray's work of historical fiction tells its tale against the backdrop of late 17th- and early 18th-century England - specifically, major events surrounding the English Restoration - and utilises characters both real (but dramatised) and imagined.
Changing Attitudes toward a Literary Genre, 1814-1920
Author: H. Orel
Category: Literary Criticism
Sir Walter Scott defined the parameters of the historical novel and illustrated his concept of the genre by writing a long series of novels dealing with medieval times, the Elizabethan Age and the 18th Century. Later novels written by his contemporaries and successors attracted smaller audiences. When Robert Louis Stevenson, in the early 1880s, enthusiastically expanded the boundaries of romantic fiction, he became a standard-bearer and an inspiration to many of his fellow-novelists: Walter Besant, Richard Doddridge Blackmore, Arthur Quiller-Couch, Arthur Conan Doyle, Stanley John Weyman, Anthony Hope, Henry Rider Haggard, and Rafael Sabatini.
Joseph ben Matthias, Judæan aristocrat and Jerusalem Temple priest of the first rank, steps out into the boundless, magnificent city of Rome. He's clever, handsome, fêted by his Jewish hosts, and on a righteous mission to free three venerable old Jews wrongfully imprisoned as rebels. Joseph secures an audience with Nero's beautiful young Empress, Poppæa. Charmed by Joseph's zeal, she asks the Minister of Oriental Affairs to release the prisoners. The Minister seizes the opportunity to trade his assent for an edict guaranteed to outrage and mobilize the Jews of Judæa; Rome needs an excuse to comprehensively crush ongoing Jewish resistance. His scheme bears fruit. In the year 66 Judæa revolts. Led by canny old commander Vespasian, Roman forces prevail until only the fortified city of Jerusalem remains in the hands of Jewish rebels. Vespasian is acclaimed Emperor and returns to Rome, leaving the siege to his son Titus. Weeks drag by. Jerusalem, with its lofty, magnificent Temple, becomes to the besieging Romans a symbol of obdurate Jewish arrogance to be overthrown. Rebel commander, Roman captive and Flavian protégé, Josephus, long reviled as a traitor and Roman toady, is portrayed by Feuchtwanger with clear-eyed empathy as a complex, brilliant man whose desire to become a "citizen of the world" conflicts with his Jewish identity. It was Joseph's destiny, however, to become a fierce defender in Rome of the unique importance of Jewish contribution to humanity, and to become known as the first-century historian Flavius Josephus and the author of "The Jewish War." [adapted from a review by Annis, HistoricalNovels.info]
As a writer of sophisticated historical fiction, satirical fantasies and incisive essays on the political and cultural condition of America, Gore Vidal's reputation is well-established. This study explores Gore Vidal's use of classical scepticism in his historical novels and in his politics. While a great deal has been written about Vidal, there has not yet been published a serious analysis of his philosophical approach to the reading and interpretation of history, and how this in turn informs the writing of his historical fiction. What this study offers is a full understanding of how Vidal's sceptical and dissenting views reflect the mind of a politically committed and serious thinker, and, in turn, how these views directly inform the creation of a body of writing that is as intellectually challenging as it is engagingly varied in form and character.
Alessandro Manzoni was a giant of nineteenth-century European literature whose I promessi sposi (The Betrothed, 1928) is ranked with War and Peace as marking the summit of the historical novel. Manzoni wrote “Del romanzo storico” (“On the Historical Novel”) during the twenty years he spent revising I promessi sposi. This first English translation of On the Historical Novel reflects the insights of a great craftsman and the misgivings of a profound thinker. It brings up to the nineteenth century the long war between poetry and history, tracing the idea of the historical novel from its origins in classical antiquity. It declares the historical novel—and presumably I promessi sposi itself—dead as a genre. Or perhaps it justifies I promessi sposi as the climax of a genre and the end of a stage of human consciousness. Its importance lies both in its prospective and in its retrospective contributions to literary debate.
Eighteen-year-old James Douglas can only watch, helpless, as the Scottish freedom fighter, William Wallace, is hanged, drawn, and quartered. Even under the heel of a brutal English conqueror, James's blood-drenched homeland may still have one hope for freedom, the rightful king of the Scots, Robert the Bruce. James swears fealty to the man he believes can lead the fight against English tyranny. The Bruce is soon a fugitive, king in name and nothing more. Scotland is occupied, the Scottish resistance crushed. The woman James loves is captured and imprisoned. Yet James believes their cause is not lost. With driving determination, he blazes a path in blood and violence, in cunning and ruthlessness as he wages a guerrilla war to restore Scotland's freedom. James knows he risks sharing Wallace's fate, but what he truly fears is that he has become as merciless as the conqueror he fights.