Het verleden hier en nu? | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 21, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1384-5829
  • E-ISSN: 2352-118X



Until the middle of the twentieth century bringing history to life was considered one of the main qualities of the historical novel. With the emergence of the postmodern historical novel attention of literary scholars shifted towards ways in which the historical novel could critically reflect upon the possibility of representing a past reality in literary and non-literary texts. In this article I investigate the interrelation between both the construction and deconstruction of history in the historical novel. To get a more accurate picture I distinguish two forms of evoking reality in narrative: the impression that what is told is present and accessible for the reader during the reading process (immersive illusion) and the impression that what is told is consonant with reality (emersive illusion). Both forms of illusion are present in the historical novel and also in historiography, albeit with different rule patterns. By tracking the ways in which the two illusions interact I show the dynamics of illusion and illusion-breaking in the historical novel, but also in historiography. It then becomes clear that the experiments on narrating history in the postmodern historical novel are based on the distinction between factual and fictional texts that was doubted in the postmodern context.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): factual-fictional; historical novel; illusion
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