The development of the «Zeitroman» is traced through detailed ana- lysis of five examples of the genre, beginning with Immermann's «Die Epigonen» and concluding with H. Mann's «Im Schlaraffenland». Marking a new direction in German literature of the 19th century, the «Zeit- roman» was frequently concerned with locating the changing relation- ship between social classes in the broad social conditions of the age portrayed. Approaches ranged in formal terms from the panoramic novels of Immermann, Spielhagen and Gutzkow to less ambitious, but artistically more satisfying works later in the century. Tensions typifying the «Zeitroman» include those between universal and epheme- ral concerns, between historical documentation and a fictional rendering of reality, and between characterizing individuals and depicting an age in more abstract terms. Through examination of these varying balances, plus reference to the German «Bildungsroman» and social novels in England and France of the same period, a closer understanding is reached of the much abused term «Zeitroman».