The Historical Novel is a work of fiction that attempts to convey the spirit manners and the social conditions of the past age with realistic details and nearly perfect fidelity to historical facts. The subject matter may compass both public and private events. The protagonist may be an actual historical figure or an invented figure. The historical novel can be The dramatic interest of plot and character with the more or less detailed picture of the varied features of the life of a particular age. The most important feature of the historical novel is its vivid reproduction of the life of a bygone age.
Even before the coming of the historical novel comer writers had used history in their novels. As a result of the impulse to word novelty during the Renaissance and after several writers made use of history. In England, Horace Walpole used a particular period in history as background to his Gothic novels.
First Historical novel:
The passing away of the feudal system created and nostalgia for the past. compared with social and economical changes caused by the French Revolution and the industrial revolution, This nostalgia created the proper climate for the emergence of the historical novel. The first great historical novel in English was Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley published in 1814. A series of novels based on Scottish history appeared. Among them, the most important is “Guy Mannering”, Kenilworth, Old Morality, and “The Heart of Midlothian”. Among the more popular of Scott’s novels are “Ivanhoe” and the Talisman dealing with the Crusades. In this novel, memory and imagination serve Scott’s creative purpose of the central narrative is supported by a strong love of humanity.
The tradition of the historical novel continued into the story and age. Charles Dicken’s “A tale of two cities” Thackeray’s “The history of Henry Esmond Esquire” George Eliot “Romola” and Charles Reade’s “The cloister and the Hearth” is important historical novels of the Victorian period. In the continent, the historical novel florist in the writings of Balzac, Dumas, and Tolstoy. It is generally agreed that Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” is the greatest among the historical novel. “Robert Grave’s I Claudius” is another historical novel of significance.
The historical novel marches on one side with the realistic novel and the other side with the national epic. Saintsbury has remarked that historical novelists give only a subordinate position to the actual historical figure and should allot a prominent position to the imaginary figure because the chief object of the novel is the interpretation of the human character.
In the Historical novel, The recreation of the spirit undertone of the bygone ages is more important than other runs to the truth. The historical novel list has to reconcile the clients of history and art.
The historical novel has limitations for stop it is suffering from the weakness of both history and novel. Unless the novelist is scholarly and unprejudiced, he is likely to give you a half-digested and biased view of historical facts. It is also open to question whether the imaginative recreation of facts is preferably the fact to themselves.