The Emergence of the Novel

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According to Julien D. Bonn in A Comprehensive Dictionary of Literature, a novel is a ‘long fictional narrative in prose, which developed from the novella and other early forms of narrative.’ Additionally, E.M. Forster in attempting to the define the term ‘novel’ in Aspects of the Novel cites the definition of a Frenchman named Abel Chevally; ‘a fiction in prose of a certain extent’ and adds that he defines ‘extent’ as over 50,000 words. The novel tends to depict imaginary characters and situations but may include references to real places, people and events. Even though its characters and actions are imaginary, they are in some sense representative of real life. The emergence of the novel in its recognizably modern form, unlike the emergence of drama and poetry, can be traced back to Europe in the 18th century. The various factors that gave rise to the novel in English, which are more or less interrelated, include the rise of literacy, the explosion of the printing culture as well as the rise of individualism. One factor that gave rise to the novel in English was the rise of literacy. The novel emerged as a fully evolved literary form in the mid-eighteenth century in Samuel Richardson’s ‘Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded. A novel is usually organized under a plot of theme with a focus on character development and action. The novel is a young genre, a tiny infant indeed in comparison to poetry and drama, both of which seems to be as old as humanity. The educational system was not influenced significantly by the scientific revolution prior to the Enlightenment. Through the scientific revolution a great deal of traditional views at that time such as superstition and religion were broken down. Scientific facts and reasoning were now held at high esteem and great focus was placed on these two concepts. Philosophers such as John Locke went on to postulate that knowledge is obtained through sensation and reflection. This postulation was the basis of Locke’s theory that...
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