The Historical Novel as Philosophy of History
Three German Contributions - Alexis, Fontane, Döblin
- Richard Humphrey
- Bithell Series of Dissertations
This study has a two-fold purpose: to approach and describe the European historical novel afresh, and to evaluate German historical fiction alongside its European counterparts. Dr Humphrey's new approach is through analytical and substantive philosophy of history. This both places the historical novel within a history of history and shows to what type of (hi)story - to what events, timescales, causation and agency, locations, casts, themes and motifs - the genre inclines. Subsequently, German historical fiction is portrayed in its dual aspect: the historical Novelle, much-cultivated but undemocratic and ahistorical in tendency, is contrasted with the wrongly neglected historical novels of Alexis, Fontane and Döblin. With them the German historical novel attains European status, fulfilling and extending the genre's appointed tasks as the democratic successor to the epic and the ballad and as literature's standing-committee on historical over-simplification.