Georg Lukács admitted in his pioneering work The Historical Novel, first published in Russian in 1937 and reissued in English in 1960, that a study of the historical novel was ‘almost virgin territory’. 1 The majority of critics concerned with historical themes have chosen to discuss individual writers of historical fiction, such as Shakespeare, Scott, Schiller, Goethe and Tolstoy. There are still relatively few general studies of the European historical novel, and in these works the portrayal of historical characters is only mentioned in passing. 2 Even fewer studies have been devoted to the general development and separate periods of the historical novel in Russia. 3 Moreover, of those studies of the historical novel which have appeared, the majority have concentrated on works of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The importance of history for the twentieth-century European novel is, however, demonstrated by the fact that many modern writers - Thomas Mann, Arthur Koestler, Paul Scott, Graham Greene, André Malraux, Olivia Manning, Victor Serge and Solzhenitsyn, to name but a few - have chosen to deal in works of fiction with historical events in the present or the recent past because they themselves have experienced historical cataclysms in their own lives.