History and fiction: the trials of separation and reunion

Brian Hamnett

in The Historical Novel in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199695041
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732164 | DOI:
History and fiction: the trials of separation and reunion

Show Summary Details


Even historical novelists such as Vigny and Manzoni questioned the validity of this type of novel, on the grounds that fact and invention were incompatible. As historians began to claim that their work was ‘scientific’, the implied separation left the novel as ‘fictitious’, despite the overriding aim of both history and fiction to represent reality as experienced by human beings in past and present. The objectives of the distinct disciplines were increasingly defined, with historians stressing the factual nature of their sources and of historical events in particular. They tended to regard the historical novel either as a useful supplement to factual history or just as an entertainment. Even so, history and the historical novel continued to influence one another across the shifting sands of the disciplines. Later twentieth-century literary and historical theorists revived earlier discussion of the relationship, but almost never brought the historical novel into their discussion.

Keywords: fact; fiction; invention; imagination; science; theory; discipline

Chapter.  8802 words. 

Subjects: Literature

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.