How do I understand a successful historical novel is not a compilation of several interviews or mere description of history? What should be basic minimum for a piece of literature to be called as...

How do I understand a successful historical novel is not a compilation of several interviews or mere description of history? 

What should be basic minimum for a piece of literature to be called as historical novel?

Asked on by khairul

1 Answer | Add Yours

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

khairul,

Sir Walter Scott did not invent the form of the historical novel, as he was quick to admit, but he can be viewed as its greatest practitioner. Starting with "Waverley", Scott uses his fiction to preserve the manners and customs of vanishing societies. He pays careful attention to dialects, costumes, and other details, supplementing his stories with historical notes on a variety of topics. The result is a highly realistic re-creation of the past, one that engages the reader both intellectually and emotionally.

Because of his evident seriousness of purpose, Scott helped to elevate the status of the novel in England. Despite the achievements of earlier novelists, the novel form was still regarded as disreputable and dangerous. By focusing on the adventures of young men, and by placing his heroes in the midst of momentous political events, Scott suggested that the novel form might have enormous appeal for male readers.

Through the early decades of the 19th century, though other sorts of fiction would also become popular, the historical novel remained the most prestigious. As the Victorian Age unfolded, almost every major English novelist would try his or her hand at the historical novel. Scott’s influence was felt across the world, inspiring the historical fiction of James Fenimore Cooper in the United States, Victor Hugo in France, and Leo Tolstoy in Russia.

Through his depictions of past conflicts, Scott raises many of the most pressing questions of his day. How do societies grow and change? Is change always positive? What is lost and what is gained as a result of such changes? What are our obligations to the past, and what are our duties to the future?

These questions had special significance for readers living through the social difficulties of the Industrial Revolution. For these readers, the costs and benefits of industrialization and modernization remained unclear. Such readers would find in Scott both a way of honoring the past and a means of reconciling themselves to the future.

He seems to have begun experimenting with fiction as early as 1805. After numerous fits and starts, his first novel, "Waverley", was published in 1814. "Waverley" sent Scott down an entirely new path. Between its publication and his death in 1832, he published more than 20 works of fiction, including "Old Mortality" (1816), "Rob Roy" (1817), "The Heart of Midlothian" (1818), and "Ivanhoe" (1819). "Ivanhoe" incidentally first gives us our introduction to the the rich and colorful character of Robin Hood.

Scott was made a baronet in 1820—the “Sir”—and he died after suffering a series of strokes, at the age of 61.

We’ve answered 318,983 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question