Some strategies of the contemporary historical novel: from a temporary puzzle towards an intrahistorical dimension
On the eve of its bicentenary in Western literature (1814-2014), the so-called historical novel accepts all types of considerations and analysis, theoretical categorizations, generic assumptions, and even purely statistical surveys that prove its strong position in the market. Its location at the crossroads of influences between modern historiography and literary movements makes the historical novel at once a multipurpose tool and, at the same time, a multifaceted field of studies. While the modern literary theory remains ambiguous on how to define a “historical novel”, this genre replete with contradictions flourishes and continues to grow in subcategories (historiographic metafi ction, the new historical novel, intra-historical novel or historical detective novel, among others). The new social and generational context provides an entrypoint into the literary scene for women as well as young writers, inheritors of an indirectly mediatized postmemory with a strong affective component. From the perspective of the theoretical framework for history, memory and oblivion developed by Ricoeur and recent psychological and sociological analyses of the production mechanisms of memory, narratives of the past can frequently be seen to adopt an intrahistorical stance, focusing on the quest for identity, and their study offers promising new methodological perspectives.
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