Historical novel

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the historical novel has its starting point in Germany with the authoress Benedikte Naubert (1756-1819). Their historical novels partly becamealso in the French and English it translates why walter Scott learned it to know and by them was inspired. In novels like „Ulrich of woods “„the Amtmannin of Hohenweiler “and. A. it already uses the principle to make Nebenpersonen of history main persons of its novels those of walterScott was taken over. Today Benedikte Naubert is to a large extent unknown contrary to walter Scott.

Many early historical novels promoted the interest of the general public in the history of the Middle Ages to Europe. The appearance of the Glöckners of Notre Dame von Victor Hugo promoted to Francethe movement for the preservation of the gothical cultural property, which led to the establishment of the national authority Monuments historiques.

In addition historical novels promoted in many cases the national feeling. Henryk Sienkiewicz from Poland, Literaturnobelpreisträger 1905, described the conflicts between Poland and the German knight medal in its novels, revolting Kosaken and the Sweden ideas. The Waverley - Rome of Scott (see below) promoted the interest in the history of Scotland. A similar meaning for Norwegian history attained Sigrid and set with the novel Kristin Lavransdatter, with that likewise it 1928 a Literaturnobelpreis, as well as Franz Werfel for the Armenian people with its novel won the forty days of the Musa Dagh.

The historical novel begins in the English literature with the Scottish writer Sir walter Scott (1771 - 1832). There were novels, which act before an historical background, alreadybefore; the persons acted however according to the customs and standards of the presence of the writers, so that one here not of historical, but of key novels o.a. speaks. The question arises, why the type of novel of the historical novel only at the beginning 19. Century developed andwas successful immediately - the first historical novel walter Scotts „Waverly “was published 1814. The wars, which followed the French revolution, the campaigns Napoleons and the restoration following on it had large parts of the European population the influence of history on their personal lifebefore eyes led, and this in shorter time and in larger measure than ever before. The change of the war guidance - mass armies instead of small mercenary troops - let become history a mass experience, committed the states in addition, to communicate the goals of the wars the war-prominent masses,which happened under Rekurrierung on national history and their heights and depths. One can however probably assume walter Scott did not write „Waverly “from historicalphilosophical considerations, so that it appears justified here to proceed from a artistic-creative process of the letter even if he itselfthe interest of its readers in historical topics, in particular at the topic of the “Waverly”, which Jakobitenaufstand 1745/46, to have been quite conscious seems. Now some characteristics distinguish walter Scotts historical novel, which permit it only to speak from their own novel type to. A goal of this novel type is a living ending of the past its. The historical writers supply the facts, which the writer fills with lives. In the concrete case „of the Waverly “, which describes at that time an epoch which is past not yet far, the hero is to mediate between the presence of the readers and the past. This hero, andhere the large difference to the Epos lies, is now „the middle hero in such a way specified “. Persons, who stand not at the point of the society and do not release historical events, but in it to be involved. The Protagonist is strengthened morally to some extent, sacrifices themselves up, a humanPassion, which drags the reader along, however never develops. Scotts main figures are: „… national typical characters, but not in the sense of the recapitulatory high point, but in that the efficient averageness. “

The historical personalities are only Nebenfiguren, arise however to their role accordingly in important situations. Between the appearancesthe historical personalities is relatively free the writer within the historical conditions in the organization of the life way of his Protagonisten. Dialogues, which serve the living ending of the past, increase likewise in importance like the Nebenfiguren, which represent disliked sides along historical conflict lines. Scotts of novels affected onewhole row of authors: „Balzac, Hugo, de Vigny and Mérimée in France, Manzoni in Italy, Puschkin and Tolstoi in Russia, founder and Fontane in the German linguistic area. (...) In North America Coopers Lederstrumpf Saga became the resonance soil for Scott. “

During however Manzoni, Puschkin and others the traditionScotts followed, partly than its pupils regard, became in France, and also in Spain, which reproduces Scott model rather reflected as.George Lukács speaks even of mental fights for the historical novel in France and a theoretical formulation of the romantic historical novel on onehigher level than in the other European countries.

the Rezeption Scotts in France and the romantic historical novel

the reasons for it that the debate was most intensive over the historical novel in France, are to be looked for in French history. During inEngland largest part the fights for more rights an understanding of the expiration of history made, possible rather unblutig run, optimistic for the citizens, were the Frenchmen with the fewer optimistically which are correct experiences of the revolution, which confronted on it the following „terreur “and the structure of a post office-revolutionary society. Sothe discussion was around the historical novel in France then also in the reason a debate about the historical view, briefly said about the question whether the French revolution „an industrial accident “of the history, or which was logical consequence of earlier developments.Alfred de Vigny was relevant at thisDiscussion takes part. Its historical understanding expresses itself already in that 1826 published novel „Cinq Mars ou une conjuration sous Louis XIII. “, which plays in the era Richelieu. It records its theoretical bases then in the preface of the fourth edition (1829), the Lukásc as the bezeichnenste theoretical communist manifestothe romantic direction in the historical novel designates. Vigny rejects Scott as easy, since figures invented here act, historical figures only at the edge occur and only the dating of the period serve. The main figures of his novel cardinal Richelieu, the Gestalter of the absolutism, and Cinq Mars are corresponding,the privileges feudaler as defenders arises. De Vigny turns thus again „history to making large men of “this epoch. De Vigny are important not the facts, but their Fiktionalität according to. The writer must the facts interpret and to them a sense lend, their moral consequencesrepresent, and may therefore historical facts convert. To that extent the writer is bound to the material historical personality for example Richelieus, importantly is also not absolutely the idea which can be obtained. De Vigny, that as fighters for the second conditions gone down meanwhile sees itself and the absolutism asErring way of the history understands, which inevitably to the revolution had to lead, regards the facts with one „subjektivistischen moral Apriori “, as George Lukásc formulates it. The goal of the romantic historiography is to be back-watched thus from the ripe one, which reached France, and over the mistakes to the youth account outto put down. In contrast to the Scott historical novel history one does not only live-end but one interprets. This happens under Rekurrierung on the large persons of history. Even if de Vignys interpretation of French history and its perception of their youth mistakes is not divided by all, is its understandingthe type of the historical novel quite common and becomes from other authors such as z. B.Victor Hugo divided.

Quotations out: Lukács, George: The historical novel, Berlin 1955


  • Engler, Winfried, the French romance, Tübingen 2000
  • Lukács, George: The historical novel, Berlin 1955
  • Möllenbrock, Heinz Joachim: The historical novel 19. Century, Heidelberg 1980


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