This article explores the link between the novel and the passport system as one of the defining legal institutions of modernity. The late eighteenth-century introduction of modern strategies for controlling mobility brought about a reconfiguration of political space which was now no longer freely travelable, but crisscrossed by internal and international borders. This process is crucial in terms of the history of the novel because it undid the nexus of space, mobility, and narrative characteristic of the early-modern novel and forced the genre to invent plots that better aligned with the reality of modern movement control. Taking a first step towards a literary history of movement control, this comparative study identifies three successive modalities of the novel/passport interface via readings of exemplary literary works: Schnabel's Insel Felsenburg (1731–43), Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1795–96) as compared to Godwin's Caleb Williams (1794), and Stendhal's La Chartreuse de Parme (1839).

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