Forms and Functions of the Belgian Historical Novel in the First Two Decades after Belgian Independence

TitleForms and Functions of the Belgian Historical Novel in the First Two Decades after Belgian Independence
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsBemong, Nele
EditorTroha, Gašper, Vanesa Matajc, and Gregor Pompe
Book TitleHistory and its Literary Genres
Chapter10
Pagination115-127
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
CityNewcastle
ISBN9781847158242
ISBN Number1-84718-524-X
Keywords19th-century literature, Bakhtin, Belgian literature, chronotopes, discourse analysis, historical novel, nationalism
Abstract

In the first two decades after independence, Belgian historical novelists eagerly participated in the (politically orchestrated) nationalistic attempts to shape a recognizable Belgian identity for the people inhabiting the regions that had been united as a buffer state against French threats of annexation in 1830. Because of the range of different communicative functions (nationalist, didactic and moral) allotted to Belgian literature in these decades, there appeared a number of different types of historical novels. These types were not only intended to legitimize the independence of the new nation-state toward the international community; first and foremost they had to make the Belgian citizens aware of their shared past as a nation. In order to do so, the first Belgian historical novelists began to search for new norms and models for their own patriotic literature, which had to be the reflection and embodiment of a unique, national genius. Nineteenth-century Belgians had to be made more familiar with the glorious past of the nation, since only sufficient knowledge of this past could inspire pride in their hearts, pride for their rich inheritance as a nation, pride for the ancient national traditions that had survived in spite of foreign government, pride that would result in national fervour and true patriotism.

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