British Novel Essay

837 words - 4 pages

British Novel

The novel originated in the early 18th century after the Italian word "novella," which was used for stories in the medieval period. Its identity has evolved and it is now considered to mean a work of prose fiction over 50,000 words. Novels focus on character development more than plot. In any genre, it is the study of the human psyche.

The ancestors of the novel were Elizabethan prose fiction and French heroic romances, which were long narratives about contemporary characters who behaved nobly. The novel came into popular awareness towards the end of the 1700s, due to a growing middle class with more leisure time to read and money to buy books. Public interest in the ...view middle of the document...

The novel became established as the dominant literary form during the reign of Queen Victoria of England (1837-1901). Victorian novelists portrayed middle-class, virtuous heroes responding to society and learning wrong from right through a series of human errors. Sir Walter Scott published three-volume novels and ingeniously made them affordable to the general public by making them available for purchase in monthly installments. This marketing tactic lead to the writing innovation of sub-climaxes as a way to leave readers wanting more each month. Notable Victorian authors include Charles Dickens, considered the best English Victorian novelist, who wrote "A Christmas Carol" (1843) and Lewis Carroll, (Charles Ludwidge Dodgson), who wrote "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1864) and "Through the Looking-Glass" (1871).
The rise of industrialization in the 19th century precipitated a trend toward writing that depicted realism. Novels began to depict characters who were not entirely good or bad, rejecting the idealism and romanticism of the previous genre. Realism evolved quickly into naturalism which portrayed harsher circumstances and pessimistic characters rendered powerless by the forces of their environment. Naturalist novels include "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which was a major catalyst for the American Civil War; "Tom Sawyer" (1876) and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1885), the latter of which is considered the great American novel written by Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens).
The 20th century is divided into two phases of...

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