On the popularity of historical fiction circa 1900February 23, 2011
“In progressive discourse, faith in impersonal, agentless, evolutionary progress led, as Lears argues, to bourgeois enervation. And yet, restoring the bourgeois subject’s potency meant eliminating progress and thereby rendering the bourgeois subject’s raison d’être null and void. The historical novel of the Progressive era attempts to resolve this deeply felt contradiction by retreating from and advancing into the past at the same time. The popularity of the historical romance in this period can be explained with reference to the painful contradiction that these novels solve, at least for the moment, through the act of reading them.”
Gripp, Paul. “When Knighthood Was Progressive: Progressive Historicism and the Historical Novel.” The Journal of Narrative Technique 27.3 (1997): 297-328.
I’m not sure how much of that I buy, and I’m getting increasingly annoyed by Gripp’s ssues with sentence structure, but I thought the quote was interesting, and worth sharing.