A novel is a created prose tale of significant length and complexity that imaginatively deals with human experience, usually through a continuous sequence of events involving a group of people in a specific environment. Within its broad framework, the novel has embraced a diverse range of kinds and styles, including picaresque, epistolary, Gothic, romantic, realist, and historical fiction, to mention a few.
The novel is a fiction genre, and fiction is defined as the art or craft of conjuring up representations of human existence through the written word that instruct, divert, or both. The many forms of fiction are best viewed as a continuum or, more precisely, a cline, with the shortest form, the anecdote, at one end of the scale and the longest conceivable novel at the other. When a work of fiction is long enough to be considered a complete book rather than just a chapter, it is said to have reached novelhood. However, this state allows for quantitative categories, so a short book can be called a novella (or, if the content’s insubstantiality matches its brevity, a novelette), while a long novel can overflow the banks of a single volume and become a roman-fleuve, or river novel. One of the genre’s most important dimensions is length.
A device known as the storey or plot propels the novel through its hundreds or thousands of pages. For example, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843) might have been conceived as “a misanthrope is reformed by certain magical visitations on Christmas Eve,” or Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813) as “a young couple destined to be married must first overcome the barriers o Because the plot of one novel is anticipated to be somewhat different from that of another, and there are few basic human situations for the novelist to draw upon, the detailed working out of the nuclear notion demands a great deal of inventiveness. The dramatist may plagiarise his plot from fiction or biography, which Shakespeare approves of, but the novelist must create what appear to be novelties.
The weaker author is focused with plot; the great novelist is fascinated with the convolutions of the human personality under the weight of skilfully chosen experience. It was formerly assumed that there could be no fiction without character. Since World War II, the writers of what has become known as the French nouvelle roman (i.e., new novel) have purposefully devalued the human element, saying that things and processes have the right to the writer’s and reader’s attention first. Thus, in chosiste (meaning “thing-ist”) texts, the furniture of a room takes precedence over the human occupants. This may be viewed as a flimsy protest against the novel’s long-standing emphasis on character, yet there have been evidence that readers can be held captive by things as well as characters, even on a popular level. In The Ambassadors (1903), Henry James was a little hazy regarding the source of his main character’s fortune; if he wrote today, he’d have to take his readers on a tour of the factory or estate. The appeal of many unremarkable but popular fiction has little to do with its wooden characters; it is the reader’s attraction to machinery, protocols, and organisations. The success of Ian Fleming’s British spy thrillers in the 1960s was largely due to the hero’s automobile, gun, and favoured method of preparing a martini, James Bond.