Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Horacker is one of the mature works on which Raabe’s reputation as a major German novelist of the nineteenth century rests. The novel falls within the period of German realism, sometimes referred to in German literary criticism as poetischen or burgerlichen Realismus, and is realistic in contrast to the more idealistic classicism and Romanticism. Horacker focuses on the daily life experienced by the protagonists in a transitional society following the Revolution of 1848, a period when the German bourgeoisie (Burgertum) was struggling vainly for more political rights. The book is regional only in the sense that it is firmly anchored to a specific geographical area, which Raabe knew well and portrayed with a sure touch.

The humorous, rambling style used by Raabe allows a comprehensive view of the society he describes. Plots are weakened—not much action occurs in Horacker—and suspense is diminished. Although many devices are used to delay the conclusion, all the elements are carefully woven into a well-orchestrated whole; for example, everyone arrives at the final scene in Gansewinckel at just the right moment. What appears to be merely purposeless digression contributes to the reader’s understanding of the attitudes of the people and of the village environment. The structure, which superficially appears so very rambling and uninterrelated, turns out to be very carefully constructed.

Raabe’s narrative...

(The entire section is 498 words.)