Created By: ArtemisStrong on December 15, 2011 Last Edited By: ArtemisStrong on March 5, 2012

The Novel

Self-contained, long form fiction centered around personal narratives.

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Trope

Needs a Better Description, Up for Grabs

The Novel is a literary genre that came into its own during the 19th Century. At that time writers, as members of a still fairly young profession, moved away from emulating the classic forms of epic poetry and satire and began spending more time with narratives that offered a more intimate relationship with the characters. Making use of first person perspective and/or the free indirect style, authors of this distinctly new style of storytelling were able to explore character to a greater depth, while sometimes eschewing well-developed plots (though this is not always the case; there have been many great novelists who have balanced the demands of plot and character with finesse.)

The trend was for these tales to get longer and longer, as authors sought to fully exhaust the topics they were tackling. What had begun as short stories transformed into stand-alone narratives published in book form: the novel.

Nowadays readers tend to think of long narrative fiction as falling into one of any kind of novel; i.e., Romance Novels, Horror Novels, Sci Fi Novels, Westerns, Literary Fiction, etc.

Early pioneers of the genre include Charles Dickens, George Elliot, and Jane Austen.
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • December 15, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Perhaps some mention of related terms (novella, novelette) and estimate of length (in comparison with short stories).
  • December 15, 2011
    ArtemisStrong
    ^Yes! Will do.
  • December 15, 2011
    Nocturna
    I disagree with your list of pioneers. Dickens and Elliot were working within an established genre, and Austen was more of a codifier than a pioneer. The actual pioneers were 18th century writers, like Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe), Henry Fielding (Tom Jones), and Samuel Richardson (Pamela).

    Also, there were two types of early novels: those that focused on inner verisimilitude (generally at the expense of plot), and those that focused on outer verisimilitude. The novel as we know it came about when those two strands were combined. As such, one of the defining features of a novel is its focus on/use of verisimilitude ("realistic-ness").
  • December 15, 2011
    ArtemisStrong
    ^Yeah, that's good. I was thinking of Defoe (and Swift) when I was writing this up, I just wasn't too certain on how novelistic they were, so I played it safe in the description. You're more than welcome to add/change stuff to help get this up to snuff.

    The reason I had this up here was I was going to pothole a line of text from a work's page to the article on novels when I realized we didn't have one. The closest I could see was Lit Fic, but that's a sort of snide article done in the tone of True Art Is Incomprehensible, and really doesn't do justice to the novel as genre (or super-genre if you will.)

  • December 16, 2011
    cityofmist
    Novels were originally considered trashy, useless literature (especially gothic novels) intended for shallow women. Like the chick-lit of today.
  • December 16, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    ^ Yes! Later novels referred to characters who were either forbidden to read novels or who looked down on them and refused to read them.

    For novels in English, along with DeFoe, Fielding and Richardson, include Laurence Sterne, best known for his novels The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy (circa 1775).

    The first novel is actually Japanese: The Tale of Genji, the early 11th century work of Japanese literature attributed to the Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu.
  • December 16, 2011
    LordGro
    Are you aware that there are already pages for Novel, Novella and Novelette? (Nothing against upgrading those pages, though.)
  • December 16, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    ^ Thanks. I for one didn't know that. Hope Artemis can do that.
  • December 16, 2011
    ArtemisStrong
    ^^ That is weird. That Novel page didn't come up on any of my searches, and when I tried to pothole novel, it redlinked me. I searched the literature tropes and didn't come across it. Thanks for pointing it out. I'll transfer what we collected here to a .doc file later today--gotta go right now--discard this, and then see if I can integrate it into the existing page without too many complaints.
  • December 16, 2011
    LordGro
    The current page for Novel is pretty meagre, though. You could still let the new page go through YKTTW, if you appreciate the feedback/commentary.
  • December 16, 2011
    ArtemisStrong
    Yeah, I'd love to keep this up long enough for interested parties to contribute. I'll put an Up For Grabs in the header so editors can add/shuffle/tighten-up as they see fit.

    I'm just not sure of the protocol of using YKTTW to workshop an existing trope, is all.
  • December 16, 2011
    TonyG
    Don Quixote is considered by some to be the first modern novel.
  • March 4, 2012
    CrystalBlue
    Bump
  • March 5, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Another very early novel is The Golden Ass by Apuleius. It's also the only Latin novel that survives in its entirety.
  • March 5, 2012
    kuyanJ
    Another books sometimes said to have started off the novel as a genre ('though it's not a clearcut example) is The Heptameron. The book, in imitation of the older Decameron, takes the form of a series of short stories with a Framing Story. But in contrast to older works, there is a lot of focus on characterisation (especially in the Framing Story), and a lot of links between the stories.
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