Coping with historical tasks: The role of historical novels in transmitting psychological patterns of national identity
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Historical novels represent a special field of socialization (Burke, 1945; Bettelheim, 1975). Most historical novels attract their readers not by aesthetic sophistication and excellence, but by providing a playground for experiencing the history. These novels not only introduce readers into the art of reading but also transmit the cultural patterns of national identity. We have analysed the most successful Hungarian historical novels with the aim of uncovering what they offer for identification and the mechanisms how they do it. The third ranking novel in the success list is the 'Golden age of Transylvania' written by Mór Jókai. The present study aims at providing an analysis of the coping strategies for revealing the patterns of coping that this novel offers for identification. We identified the threats to the identities of the main characters throughout the novel, and assessed the coping strategies that they employed. We also defined the outcome or efficacy of each coping effort. Thus, from the conflict-matrix of the group relations and interpersonal relations and the coping-matrix of the characters we get a picture on the model of coping projected by the novel. Several coping strategies unfold in the novel. It is noteworthy that as opposed to 'heroic historism', the novel presents neither confrontation nor instrumentalism as efficient coping strategies. It makes the negotiated compliance and other coping strategies of pragmatism the most efficient and attractive.
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