Why is the LHN called a living handbook?

The living handbook of narratology (LHN) is based on the Handbook of Narratology, first published by Walter de Gruyter in 2009 and currently available in its second, completely revised and expanded edition of 2014.

When we started the online version in 2009 we decided to call it "living" because of its dynamic nature. In addition to mirroring the content of the latest available print version in an open source online publication, we also wanted the LHN to be an instrument and driver for producing new, enhanced and updated versions of the print version(s). Based on Wiki technology the LHN therefore included commentary and feed back functionalities for registered users who wished to engage in a moderated discussion, and who contributed to the continuous expansion and updating of what eventually grew into one of the most often cited narratological resources. Where discussions took place these are still documented at the end of the individual lemmata; the sequence of updates and corrections of content can be retraced in the LHN log file.

After ten years of dynamic expansion and discussion we eventually decided to disable the wiki functionalities in 2019, for editorial as well as technical reasons. At the point of writing (20 February 2021) no further additions and revisions to the LHN are planned. However, should a third edition of the print version be published the LHN too will again be updated. And in case you think that a crucial lemma is missing, or that an important mistake or oversight requires correction please feel free to contact the editors.

In terms of technology the LHN has seen three iterations. From May 2009 to April 2013, it was hosted and maintained by Hamburg University Press on a Wiki system. In 2019 the LHN was then migrated to a DRUPAL-CMS, with an updated design. This design was carried over to the third, current version which we launched in 2020. It is based on an HTML export from the previous, final dynamic version. While generated from static HTML the latest LHN version nevertheless preserves all the core technical features that the LHN target audience has grown accustomed to, such as a full text search facility, one-click-export of reference data and integration of digital humanities tools for text analysis.