The Rise of the Novel in the Eighteenth Century

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The Rise of the Novel in the Eighteenth Century ( A Brief Summary of the first three lectures)

1- The first half of the eighteenth century marks the rise of a new literary genre: works of prose called today ‘novels’. 2- The novel has its roots in the short tales of the middle and Elizabethan ages, like romances and other adventure stories. 3- Romances- also called “French romances”- are fictitious, fanciful stories in prose about knights and their deeds. They were full of fanciful, unrealistic incidents and creatures like magic swords, dragons, monsters,…etc. 4- Many social and intellectual factors in that age (the 18th c) had combined to create something new and different in that prose form:

a) Individualism: The new form, i.e the novel is about certain realistic people living in a certain society and not about fanciful characters, supermen or monsters. On the contrary, the characters are ‘individualized’: which means that every individual, person or character ( ordinary or extraordinary) is independent from other individuals. In the past, individuals or characters in the prose works never stood for themselves: they stood for certain abstracts or qualities :Mr. Greedy, Mr. Angry, Mrs. Domineering, ..etc. With the rise of this literary form, individuals are drawn realistically as independent, regardless of their social status or personal capacity. The characters are analyzed in detail, and shown as complex individuals, affected by social pressures. b) The rise of the middle class: The new middle class in England ( consisting of merchants, lawyers, businessmen, doctors,..etc.) were very educated, but they were unlike the upper classes who were taught in Greek and Latin. The middle-class people could read in English, so they among the readers of then novels at that time. c) Educated women: Women became educated at that time , and so they were a crucial factor in producing a readership for

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