Until recently, the critical reception of historical fiction was dominated by two theoretical paradigms: Gyorgy Lukacs's Marxist view and Linda Hutcheon's concept of 'historiographic metafiction'. We are now entering a new phase as the discussion of the historical novel is rapidly becoming more inclusive, more tolerant and, above all, more diverse. It is before the backdrop of these changes in the critical debate that the contributions to this volume are meant to be read. Rather than seeing historical fiction as locked in a clear-cut scheme of teleological succession or assigning to the historical novel specific aesthetic purposes, the articles in this collection seek to probe deeply into the historical novel's potential for providing readers not simply with an understanding of how the image of the past is constructed but also of how attempts to chart forms of historical otherness constitute a specific mode of cultural experience mediated by literature. This desire for a literary experience of historical otherness has recently increased in urgency, even if the historical authenticity one might nostalgically associate with such a project must always elude us. Authors discussed include Walter Scott, John Fowles, Graham Swift, M. J. Vassanji, J. M. Coetzee, Peter Ackroyd, Alan Massie, Julian Barnes, Ian Mc Ewan, Hilary Mantel and Jim Crace.