Portal:Novels

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Introduction

A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, normally in prose, which is typically published as a book.

The entire genre has been seen as having "a continuous and comprehensive history of about two thousand years", with its origins in classical Greece and Rome, in medieval and early modern romance, and in the tradition of the Italian renaissance novella. (Since the 18th century, the term "novella", or "novelle" in German, has been used in English and other European languages to describe a long short story or a short novel.)

Selected article

Hunt in action in 2004
La Peau de chagrin is an 1831 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). Set in early 19th-century Paris, it tells the story of a young man who finds a magic piece of shagreen that fulfills his every desire. For each wish granted, however, the skin shrinks and consumes a portion of his physical energy. La Peau de chagrin belongs to the Études philosophiques group of Balzac's sequence of novels, La Comédie humaine. Although the novel uses fantastic elements, its main focus is a realistic portrayal of the excesses of bourgeois materialism. The book's central theme is the conflict between desire and longevity. The magic skin represents the owner's life force, which is depleted through every expression of will, especially when it is employed for the acquisition of power. Ignoring a caution from the shopkeeper who offers the skin to him, the protagonist greedily surrounds himself with wealth, only to find himself miserable and decrepit at the story's end. La Peau de chagrin firmly established Balzac as a writer of significance in France and abroad. His social circle widened significantly, and he was sought eagerly by publishers for future projects. It inspired Giselher Klebe's opera Die tödlichen Wünsche and may have influenced Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Selected novel quote

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  • Religion is a solace to many people and it is even conceivable that some religion, somewhere, really is Ultimate Truth. But in many cases, being religious is merely a form of conceit. The Bible Belt faith in which I was brought up encouraged me to think that I was better than the rest of the world; I was 'saved' and they were 'damned' — we were in a state of grace and the rest of the world were 'heathens' and by 'heathen' they meant such people as our brother Mahmoud. It meant that an ignorant, stupid lout who seldom bathed and planted his corn by the phase of the Moon could claim to know the final answers of the Universe. That entitled him to look down his nose at everybody else. Our hymn book was loaded with such arrogance — mindless, conceited, self-congratulation on how cozy we were with the Almighty and what a high opinion he had of us and us alone, and what hell everybody else was going to catch come Judgment Day.

Stranger in a Strange Land


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