The form 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.
Pioneers of the novel include 18th century writers such as Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe), Henry Fielding (The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling), and Samuel Richardson (Pamela). Jane Austen might be considered the codifier of the novel. By most modern definitions, The Tale of Genji, written in the 11th century and attributed to Murasaki Shikibu, was the first written novel and the first modern novel.
A novel can be any work of fiction longer than about 40 or 50 thousand words (the exact figure is debatable), though modern publishing often place a minimum length of at least 70 thousand words, and sometimes as high as 100 thousand. Novels tend to have very complex plots with several conflicts that drive them.
Subtypes and derivations of the novel form include (list not mutually exclusive):
- Epistolary Novel: When a novel consists of a series of fictitious letters or documents.
- Serial Novel: Novel published serialized as a newspaper or magazine series.
- Novelization: Adaptation of a work in another medium into a novel.
- Tie-In Novel: Novels written to tie in with a TV show or Series Franchise.
- Verse Novel: A novel that is written in verse.
- Graphic Novel: When novel meets Comic Book.
- Dime Novel: The pulp novels of the 19th century ('penny dreadfuls' in Britain).
- Romance Novel: Trivial novel that focuses on love and romance.
- Airport Novel: Cheap entertainment novel, the modern Spiritual Successor of the Dime Novel.
- Light Novel: Japanese type of young adult oriented entertainment novels.
- Visual Novel: Novel meets Interactive Fiction.
- In-Game Novel: Novel included as background in a Video Game.
For more information see "the other wiki."
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
- Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, often considered the first novel.
- Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, considered the first modern novel in Western literature.