Romances of War: Die Erinnerung an die Revolutions- und Napoleonischen Kriege in Grossbritannien und Irland, 1815-1945

TitleRomances of War: Die Erinnerung an die Revolutions- und Napoleonischen Kriege in Grossbritannien und Irland, 1815-1945
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsPeters, Lars
Number of Pages348
PublisherFerdinand Schöningh

Napoleon and Nelson, Wellington and Bliicher, Trafalgar and Austerlitz - people and places that are in European memory of the Napoleonic era. How did people in Great Britain and Ireland recall revolutions and Napoleonic wars ? In this monograph,  Lars Peters examines more than 500 historical novels, in addition to poems and works of historiography. The memories of these wars contributed to help unite British, Scots, and Welsh under the umbrella of a British nation. In Ireland, however, the interpretation of the events remained controversial. According to Peters, to this day the country lacks a cross-confessional myth. Anyone who deals with the afterlife of the Napoleonic era in the English-speaking world should not miss this book. (Amazon)

Lars Peters uses historical novels published during the heyday of the British Empire (1815-1945) to interrogate how British and Irish reading publics retrospectively imagined the places, events, and people associated with the French Wars. Although scholars of Romantic literature are not strangers to this subject matter, Peters rightly notes that we still know far too little about Napoleonic historical fiction in relation to the evolving cultural norms of British society, as reflected in their topical gradations. To provide a broader impression of the literary canon over the longue durée, Peters presents a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of 534 novels (the seemingly arbitrary number reflecting the unevenness of extant sources). His analysis challenges the thesis propounded by Linda Colley in Britons (1992) that a common hatred of France welded English, Scots, and Welsh together as a British nation between 1792 and 1815; he suggests instead that a national master-narrative emerged only much later, in the mid nineteenth century, when communicative memory, that is to say, the first-hand experiences of war survivors, gave way to cultural memory, whose diminishing cognitive immediacy opened up opportunities for a selective commemoration of the past. Peters argues that the fusing of fact and fiction in historical novels became a catalyst of this transition.  Review of Lars Peters Romances of War volume by Jasper Heinzen in the journal German Historical Institute London Bulletin.

Short TitleRomances of War
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