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Types of Novels Type Bildungsromn, Description coming of age, or novel of initiation.

Novels that treat themes of creation, judgment, and redemption are often called metaphysical novels; famous examples include Franz Kafka's The Castle (1926), Georges Bernanos's Diary of a Country Priest (1936), and Graham Greene's Heart of the Matter (1948).
Further classif ications include novels of the soilstark stories of people living close to the earth like Ole Rlvaag's Giants in the Earth (1927); novels of the sea such as Rich ard Henry Dana's Two Years before the Mast (1840); and novels of the a ir like Antoine de St. Exupry's Night Flight (1931).


Notable examples of the epistolary novel, which is made up of letters from verious protagonists, are Dangerous Liaisons (1782), by Pierre Laclos, a study in depravity made all the more devasta ting because the characters' evil is revea led obliquely through the ir correspondence, and The Documents in the Case (1930), by Dorothy L. Sayers, in which a crime and its solution are revea led through letters.

Gothic Gothic Romance

combines a desolate setting and mysterious events to create an atmosphere of terror Presents a stormy love relationship within a violent, brooding atmosphere

Frankenstein Jane Eyre Wuthering Heights Rebecca


Centers on individuals, society, or Tale of Two Cities events from the past, combined with

fictional characterizationsThe historical novel embraces not only the event-filled romances of Scott, Cooper, and Kenneth Roberts, but also works that strive to convey the essence of life in a certain time and place, such as Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter (192022), about life in medieval Norway, and Mary Renault's Mask of Apollo (1966), set in ancient Greece Naturalistic
Pessimistica lly portrays sordidness, squalor, and violence through characters who have no control over their destinies The naturalistic novel studies the effect of heredity and environment on human beings. Emile Zola 's series, The Rougon-Macquarts (187193), influenced Arnold Bennett's novels of the Five Towns, which treat life in the potteries in the English midlands; other novels th a t can be called naturalistic are The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1918), by Vicente Blasco Ibez, and An American Tragedy (1925), by Theodore Dreiser..

Novel of Manners

Defines socia l mores of a specif ic group, often the upper-middle class, wh ich control the actions of the characters

Pride and Prejudice



An early and prevalent novel type in which the protagonist, a social underdog, has a series of episodic adventures in which he sees much of the world around him and comments satirically upon it. Emphasizes internal motives, conflicts, opinions of main characters, which then develop the external action

Don Quixote Moll Flanders Pirates of the Caribbean The Stranger Catcher in the Rye Jude the Obscure Red Badge of Courage


Regional Novel

Represents accurately the habits, speech, and folklore of a particular geograph ica l section A deriva tive of the socia l novel is the regional novel, wh ich delineates the life of people in a particular place focusing on customs and speechto demonstrate how environment influences its inhabitants. Notable examples of th is genre are Hardy's Wessex novels and Wi l liam Faulkner's novels set in Yoknapatawpha County. The novels of Ignazio Silone, notably Bread and Wine (1936), are both socia l and regionalin a small Ita lian village Silone revea ls a microcosm of Mussolini's Ita ly.

Huckleberry Finn


reveals human folly and vices through wit, scorn, ridicule, and exaggeration, with hope for reform imagines the impact of real or hypothetical scientific developments on individuals or society
Depicts the problems and injustices of society, making moral judgments and offering resolution. Closely rela ted to the h istorica l novel is the socia l novel, wh ich presents a panoramic picture of an entire age. Ba lzac's Human Comedy and Tolstoy's War and Peace became models for those th at followed, including U.S.A. (1937), by John Dos Passos.

Science Fiction Sociological

Animal Farm Confederacy of Dunces Catch 22 1984 Fahrenheit 451 A Handmaids Tale The Grapes of Wrath Lord of the Flies To Kill a Mockingbird

Stream of Consciousness

Presents the total range of thoughts, memories, associations of a character in uninterrupted, endless flow.

As I Lay Dying

The English word novel comes from the Italian word novella. In Italian, novella means "little new
thing." However, in most European languages, the term for novel is roman - derived from the medieval term romance. Today in English a novella refers to a work of prose fiction that is longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel. A novella is usually between 12,000 and 30,000 words and is sometimes called a long short story, a short novel, or a novelette. By definition, a novel is a fictional prose narrative of considerable length (usually between 30,000 and 100,000 words) and complexity that deals imaginatively with human experience. The narrative is conveyed by the author through a specific point of view and connected by a sequence of events (the plot) involving a group of persons (the characters) in a specific setting. Novel also refers to the literary type constituted by such narratives. Click here for a list of the different types of novels and here for a list of frequently studied novels. Early Roots of the Novel: Compared to other genres, such as poetry or drama, the novel is a relatively recent phenomenon. Yet the novel has antecedents in narrative and verse in the tales of every age and every culture. The first European novel is usually considered to be Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (part I, published 1605). Attributes of the Novel:

Plot Characters Point of View

The English Novel: The novel took root in England in the first half of the 18th century when Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, and Henry Fielding came onto the literary scene. Early British Novels include:

Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719) Moll Flanders (1722)

Samuel Richardson's Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded (1740) Clarissa (1747/48)

Henry Fielding's

Tom Jones (1749) During the Romantic Era of British literature, poetry continued to be the dominant form of literature. However, a growing population of authors (such as Jane Austen) began to write novels that enjoyed immense popularity. By the second half of the 19th century the novel had displaced all other forms of literature in popularity, primarily due to four major factors: 1. The growing middle class and their (1) increased literacy rate and (2) disposable income 2. Cheaper production and distribution of materials 3. Publication of novels in serial form 4. The introduction of a system of circulating libraries In the early 19th century, the novel also enjoyed tremendous popularity in the United States with the works of authors such as James Fenimore Cooper. Around 1850 the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville propelled the American novel to its full power. Later, Mark Twain made the first linguistic break with British tradition using forms and cadences of the American South in his works The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, thus proving that North American English had its own unique literary merit. The early 20th century novel was influenced by new social attitudes and psychological insights. This led authors to pay closer attention to character thought and motivation. Today the novel is still the dominant form of literary expression. The novel has staying power because it has the ability to cover a wide range of tastes and interests. The line between literary and popular is at best a thin one. In their time, Austen and Dickens were considered popular writers, but today they are studied as great classic novelists. Modern authors such as Toni Morrison and Amy Tan consistently see their books on best-seller lists and are also studied in college classrooms. Currently the novel is a varied form practiced with skill by a large number of novelists and read more than any other literary form. Types of Novels: Realistic Novel A fictional attempt to give the effect of realism. This sort of novel is sometimes called a novel of manners. A realistic novel can be characterized by its complex characters with mixed motives that are rooted in social class and operate according to a highly developed social structure. The characters in a realistic novel interact with other characters and undergo plausible and everyday experiences. Prose Romance This is a novel that is often set in the historical past with a plot that emphasizes adventure and an atmosphere that is removed from reality. The characters in a prose romance are either sharply drawn as villains or heroes, masters or victims; while the protagonist is solitary and isolated from society. Novel of Incident In a novel of incident the narrative focuses on what the protagonist will do next and how the story will turn out. Novel of Character

A novel of character focuses on the protagonist's motives for what he/she does and how he/she will turn out. Epistolary Novel This first person narrative progresses in the form of letters, journals, or diaries. Picaresque Novel A picaresque novel relates the adventures of an eccentric or disreputable hero in episodic form. Historical Novel A historical novel is a novel set in a period earlier than that of the writing. Regional Novel A regional novel is a novel that is set against the background of a particular area. Non-fictional Novel This type of novel depicts living people and recent events fictionalized in the form of a story. Bildungsroman German term that indicates a novel of growth. This fictional autobiography is concerned with the development of the protagonist's mind, spirit, and character from childhood to adulthood. Roman thse French term that refers to a social novel that has an argument, social, or political message. Roman clef French term for a novel with a key; imaginary events with real people disguised as fictional characters. Roman-fleuve French term for a narrative that has a common theme or range of characters that stretch across a number of novels.

Some information for the following page is adapted from: The Oxford Companion to the English Language, ed., by Tom McArthur and A Glossary of Literary Terms, 6th ed., by M. H. Abrams