It is commonly agreed that Sir Walter Scott initiated and popularized the classical historical novel — the novel concerned with the distant past, before the birth of the author — with the publication of Waverley (1814) and its twenty-five successors. There is similar agreement that John Fowles acted as a major impetus for the revival of the historical novel in the 1960s, after its fall from favour in the earlier twentieth century, while forging a distinctly modified model of the genre. In The Historical Novel (1937) Georg Lukács (whom Fowles acknowledges and uses in Daniel Martin) asserts that the rise of the historical novel with Sir Walter Scott coincided with the emergence of nationalism and a concomitant desire to produce a sense of national history. Lukács’s belief that ‘history … is an uninterrupted process of change [that] … has a direct effect on the life of every individual’1 identifies a key characteristic of the historical novel, which recognizes that ‘history shapes human beings through specific and unique social mediations’.2 History acts as a major player in its own right in the novels of both Scott and Fowles. Lukács argues that in all of his historical novels Scott derives the ‘individuality of characters from the historical peculiarity of their age’.3 In Fowles’s novels, similarly, characters are both shaped by and attempt to escape from the conflictual forces of their time.
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