By H. Orel
Sir Walter Scott outlined the parameters of the ancient novel and illustrated his inspiration of the style by means of writing a protracted sequence of novels facing medieval instances, the Elizabethan Age, and the 18th century. Later novels written via his contemporaries and successors attracted smaller audiences. while Robert Louis Stevenson, within the early Eighteen Eighties, multiplied the limits of romantic fiction, he turned the standard-bearer and suggestion to lots of his fellow novelists: Walter Besant, Richard Doddridge Blackmore, Arthur Quiller-Couch, Arthur Conan Doyle, Stanley John Weyman, Anthony desire, Henry Rider Haggard and Rafael Sabatini.
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Extra info for The Historical Novel from Scott to Sabatini: Changing Attitudes Toward a Literary Genre, 1814-1920
He did not want to avail himself of poetical licence and re-order the great events of the era. If he introduced the Roman emperor Honorius or the Gothic King Alaric, he did so only in such circumstances 'as the records of history strictly authorize'. ' This stiffness of approach, this eagerness to appear as a dedicated student of the very best authorities, militated against the success of Antonina as a work of art. Because of its declamatory style, unoriginal characters and ghoulish plot details, Collins, in later life, denigrated it.
Novels of domestic realism, sensation and action replaced various exhausted modes such as the Gothic novel, the 'silver-fork' novel of fashionable life, marine and sporting fiction, the Newgate novel, and the stories about interesting rogues (often Irish) that had been so popular between 1825 and 1850. Thackeray's burlesques in 'Punch's Prize Novelists' (1847) clearly indicated that the time had come for new subject-matter in 28 Didactic Elements 29 the novel genre, but Thackeray, uneasy in his own efforts at historical recreation (Vanity Fair, Henry Esmond, and The Virginians), did not encourage others to write historical fiction.
He wrote to his friend R. H. Dana (January 12, 1849), 'AH literary London is now astir 22 The Historical Novel from Scott to Sabatini however, about ... [Macaulay's History]. It is regarded everywhere, as a really great achievement, and is tending to found a new school of Historical writing. The first edition of three thousand copies was out of print in a fortnight. ' 9 The possibility of writing a series of amalgams of history and fictional narratives briefly tempted him; it loomed larger in his mind than exploring the potential of individual scenes as if they were painted canvases, 10 or examining in greater detail the tormented nature of his relationship to a father he had not always obeyed willingly, or encoding allusions to contemporary history such as the bloody events of 1848 and the siege of Rome - in his recreation of the antique world.
The Historical Novel from Scott to Sabatini: Changing Attitudes Toward a Literary Genre, 1814-1920 by H. Orel