By Wilhelm Adolf Becker
Translated by Frederick Metcalfe
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year:2010
Online Publication Date:November 2010
Original Publication Year:1844
Subjects: Classical literature , Classical studies (general)
Historical fictionalisations are popular with a wide readership today. The better examples avoid expediency with historical fact, but bring dramatic life to otherwise dry chronology. It is therefore surprising to find sober German historical erudition utilising a fictional narrative to impart a copious amount of detail. However, this style found a readership far wider than just the scholarly. By combining historical learning with dramatisation, Gallus, published in 1838, became a best-seller in Germany and was quickly translated for the English market. Perhaps not to the taste of the English, however, was the somewhat burdensome apparatus of the notes which broke the narrative after each section. These were distilled and placed as footnotes, so that the narrative flowed freely. The depth of learning which abounds throughout the book is an attribute of this significant work which should not be overlooked when engaging with the novelty of its approach.
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