A novel is an epic large-scale prose, which is considered to be one of the most widely used literary genres. Up until the 13th century, the term meant a narrative in verse or prose, whereby later on only texts in prose with the term were designated. The novel shows a comprehensive content, which distinguishes itself from epic small forms, such as the novella or the short story, and mostly tells of the fate of a single protagonist or a group, which separates him from the epic, which is mostly a broad, total image of the epic World and is not focused on the inner development of the individual. Since the novel is an epic large-scale form, it always has a narrator (cf. narrative perspective), which appears either as a personal, neutral, auctorial or narrator, although mixed forms are quite possible. Since the novel is distinguished by a low degree of rigor and can be transformed enormously, there are, therefore, hardly uniform features characteristic of the genus.
The term is a loan from French. The Roman noun designates a story in prose or verse and is due to the Latin romanicus, which is roughly Roman. Since the seventeenth century, however, the term here also mostly means a narrative in prose. In this period, the term also replaced the concept of history, which meant true or fictional reports, news, stories, and narrations up to the eighteenth century. Today, the term primarily means historical works.
The novels from the epic are the result. The epic was, in addition to drama and lyricism in antiquity, the main form of poetry. Contrary to drama, the epic tells the story, while the drama imitates an action. The epics of Greek and Latin antiquity are written in verses and mostly use the hexameter. The early novels were thus also written in verses. In contrast to the novel, the epic shows fixed and universally valid values, social and life orders, while the novel mainly shows the private world-cut and the world-understanding of a figure or figure group. A reader reads a novel
Features of the novel
As described, the characteristics of the genus can not be clearly defined, since there are different manifestations, and the term is subject to a very great change, the development of which has not yet been completed. Nevertheless, there are some characteristics that apply to most of the works that we see today as novel. The following is an overview:
Overview: The characteristics of the genus at a glance
From the very beginning, when the concept was coined, it was an essential feature that literary works of this kind were fixed in writing. Consequently, the text of a novel is always the same and is not subject to any variation – in any case, if the author does not make any changes in a further edition. Thus the genus differs from the myths, legends, fairy tales, or legends, which have been transmitted orally, and thus are always subject to change, and thus sometimes have regional differences.
A novel is usually very extensive, and can only be distinguished from other epic forms, such as the short story, the narrative, the anecdote, and the novel. As a result, novels are usually not read in one single slide, but are copied in several stages, which is why they are usually divided into sections, several parts or chapters. Although there are no exact specifications for the volume, most of the writings of this type are commuting between 300 and 400 pocket pages.
Consequently, the narrated time in the novel is mostly greater than the narrative period, even though this does not apply to all works of this genre. This means that the text mostly depicts an extended period of time – partly the whole life of its protagonists – rather than the actual reading – usually several hours. Edward Morgan Forster, an English narrator, stated in his work Aspects of the Novel (1927) that a novel should consist of at least 50,000 words. However, this data is to be regarded as a subjective assessment, but it shows that the scope appears to be an essential feature.
In addition, the genre is characterized by high intelligibility. Although there are many examples which have been written for scholars, in contrast to drama or poetry, the genre produces numerous works which are designed as consumer goods for members of all educational strata. For this, only a glance at the book market has to be thrown: the family, love and criminal romances dominate the fiction, whereby they are characterized by an understandable language and clear figuration constellations.