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4.1 History of Novel

created Jan 22nd 2022, 08:02 by Addy118



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The eighteenth century has gifted English literature two entirely new forms which are without any traces in the ancient classical heritage. One of those was ‘The Periodical Essay’ and the other was ‘NOVEL’. Both of these forms, especially ‘Novel’, caught the spirit of the eighteenth century as the age of intellectual, sentimental and realistic plane and tried to instruct the readers, which would help them to a more purposeful and virtuous life. Since the time of its origin, novel has been gaining popularity and growing gradually. Today, it is recognized as the most dominant literary genre. A Novel is a relatively long narrative fiction which describes intimate human experiences normally in a prose form. The present English word ‘novel’ is derived from the Italian ‘novella’, meaning ‘new’. A Novel narrates a story embellishing it with more details of time, place, nature, people and their minds, their gestures and activities. It presents the picture of the society of that period. Novel makes life easier to understand than in drama and poetry. In modern era, novel has adopted literary prose. Novel as a literary genre has a history of about two thousand years. Among the early precursors of novel a collection of tales known as Greek Romances dating from the second to sixth century may top the list. These imaginative and delightful stories of ideal love and marvellous adventures profoundly affected the creative writing for the next thousand years. Though novel in the modern era usually makes use of a literary prose the earlier threads of the
genre can be found in Virgil’s Ecologues
or Malory’s ‘Morte De Arthur’ or Geoffrey
Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’.
Lady Murasaki Shikibu’s ‘Tale of
Genji’ (1010) has been described as the
world’s first novel. The European novel
is often said to begin with ‘Don Quixote’
by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes
which was published in two parts between
1605 and 1615. In the 18th century, the
appearance of newspaper and magazines
attracted a large number of readers from
the middle class. These new readers had
little interest in romances and tragedies,
which were appreciated by the upper class.
Thus, need for a new type of literature arose
that would express the new ideas of the 18th
century. The 18th century new literature was
characterized by the spirit of realism and
denial of romantic features like enthusiasm,
passion and imagination. The foreground
for the novel was prepared by all these
factors. After 1740, Novel originated as the
literary form in England. Increase in trade
and commerce, along with the Industrial
Revolution, gave rise to the middle class.
A class of people had emerged to occupy
an elite status. The realistic picture of
everyday life and problems of common
people depicted in the novels appealed
to the newly educated class and was
regarded by them as respectable reading
material. Thus, novel as a form appeared
to have been designed for both-to voice
the aspirations of the middle and lower
classes and meet their longings. The advent
of machines provided time to the newly
formed educated middle class to indulge in
reading and discussions about the books.
Drama and poetry were the two literary
forms that were fading away. Novel was
the combination of some features of drama
and poetry, some new more features were
added. It became the prominent form in the
eighteenth century by encompassing the
social, political and cultural happenings
and scientific progress.
‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ by John
Bunyan (1678) and ‘Oroonoku’ by Aphra
Behn (1688) initiated the plenteous and
colourful tradition of English novel and
was followed by Daniel Defoe ( Robinson
Crusoe, Mall Flanders), and Jonathan Swift
(‘Gulliver’s Travels’ - a famous satire).
Other major novelists of 18th century are
Samuel Richardson, (‘Pamela, or Virtue
Rewarded’ and ‘Clarissa,’ both epistolary
novels), Henry Fielding, Lawrence Sterne
and Tobias Smollett. The tradition was
enriched by many other stalwart novelists
such as Charles Dickens, Walter Scott,
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Horace Walpole,
Thomas Hardy, Willkie Collins and H.G.
Wells. The 20th century is marked by the
modern topics and innovative styles and
techniques and widened angles of the
views by the novelists like E.M. Forster,
James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Henry James,
George Orwell, Graham Greene, D.H.
Lawrence, William Golding and Anthony
Burgess. They widened the circumference
of the genre by writing political, social,
psychological and other modern issues in
their novels. There are immigrant authors
like Salman Rushdie (India), V.S. Naipaul
(Trinidad), Kazuo Ishigura (Japan) and
many others.
The contribution of women novelists
to this great pageant cannot be neglected.
The novel of manners ‘Evelina’ by
Frances Burney, Gothic novels by Ann
Radcliffe, a novel based on Science of the
age ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley are
landmark novels. Jane Austen has been
ruling over the minds of the people through
her novels. Bronte sisters Emily and
Charlotte have created their own place by
their incomparable works ‘The Wuthering
Heights’ and ‘Jane Eyre’. Mary Ann
Evans alias George Eliot wrote the novels
reflecting psychological insight. Virginia
Woolf is the pioneer of the Stream of
Consciousness technique in English novel.
Agatha Christie created her own place
by writing many novels based on crime.
Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are the
evergreen detectives created by her. Harper
Lee, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison and
Alice Walker have elevated the tradition
further to prosperity.
Indian Scenario :
‘Rajmohan’s Wife’, by Bankim
Chandra Chattopadhyaya serialized in
‘The Indian Field’ was the first novel in
English written by an Indian. The period
after that is marked by few more novels
written by the Indian writers. These
novels bore either nationalistic virtues
or social issues as their main framework.
Mulkraj Anand, R.K. Narayan and Raja
Rao were the major trio who prevailed
in the period after that. Novelists like
Anita Desai, Nayantara Sahgal and Arun
Joshi and Manohar Malgaonkar uplifted
and revolutionized Indian English novel
through their works. Amitav Ghosh,
Vikram Seth and Upamanyu Chatterjee
ameliorated the Indian novel in English
by adding new features to it. Recent years
have witnessed the dazzling performance
by Indian novelists like Salman Rushdie,
Arvind Adiga, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai
and Kiran Nagarkar. The tradition of
Indian English novel, since its inception,
has registered a marked shift exhibiting
global concerns.
Novella :
Novella, the word originated from
the Italian word ‘novelle’, is a type of
narrative prose fiction which is shorter
than a full length novel and longer than a
short story. It is a well-stuctured yet short
narrative, often satiric or realistic in tone.
It usually focuses on one incident or issue
with one or two main characters and takes
place at a single tradition. Some of the
famous novellas in English are -
‘The Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph
‘The Turn of the Screw’ by Henry
‘Billy Budd’ by Hermann Melville
‘Death in Venice’ by Thomas Mann
‘Seize The Day’ by Saul Bellow
‘Pearl’ by John Steinbeck
Elements of Novel/ Novella
There are six elements essential of
‘Novel’ or “Novella’. All these factors may
be related to one another in the work by an
Theme : Theme is the central idea
in the novel which can be expressed in a
nutshell. It is a philosophical statement or a
truth which the writer has put forth through
the narration of the series of events in the
story and characters acting in the particular
Plot : Plot is essentially the story or the
course of events that make up the theme.
It is created by the conflict either internal
(inside the mind of the character) or external
(with other characters or entities). Plot may
be simple (one plot) or complex (consisting
the interweaving of many subplots).
Character : Characterization is related
to the plot as the course of events take
place because of the certain behaviour of
the characters.
Depiction of character can range from
a thumbnail sketch to deep, wordy, highly
detailed verbal sketch. The important
character may have been described in
its every aspect by the writer. The minor
characters are not given much importance.
The reader follows the actions of one
main character throughout the novel. This
character is referred to as the ‘Protagonist’.
Protagonist (main character) is in conflict
with a character or an entity or a force
(internal or external) which is known as
Setting : Setting is the background in
which the story takes place.
There are several aspects of the setting.
It includes place, period, time, climate or
weather and lifestyle. Plot and character
are the two major elements that are affected
due to setting.
Conflict : The struggle between
the opposite forces in the story is called
‘conflict.’ Conflict in the story provides
interest and curiosity about the plot.
Language / Style : The language and
the techniques used by the author for the
narration of the course of events is known
as the ‘Style’.
An author can use extensive vocabulary
and high phrases or he may be laconic and
would write only to the point or he may
mix both according to the requirement for
meeting his purpose. He may use linguistic
devices to make the narrative effective.
All these factors decide the ‘texture’ of
the narration and create an impact on the
Types of Novel
Realistic novel : The realistic novel
is a piece of fiction that gives the effect
of realism and is also called a novel of
manner. It can be characterized by its
complex characters with mixed motives
that are rooted in the social class. The
characters in the realistic novel interact
with other characters and undergo plausible
and everyday experiences.

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