Portal:Novels

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The Novels Portal

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A novel is a long narrative, normally in prose, which describes fictional characters and events, usually in the form of a sequential story.

The genre has also been described as possessing "a continuous and comprehensive history of about two thousand years". This view sees the novel's origins in Classical Greece and Rome, medieval, early modern romance, and the tradition of the novella. The latter, an Italian word used to describe short stories, supplied the present generic English term in the 18th century. Ian Watt, however, in The Rise of the Novel (1957) suggests that the novel first came into being in the early 18th century,

Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, is frequently cited as the first significant European novelist of the modern era; the first part of Don Quixote was published in 1605.

The romance is a closely related long prose narrative. Walter Scott defined it as "a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvellous and uncommon incidents", whereas in the novel "the events are accommodated to the ordinary train of human events and the modern state of society." Scott's definition is not to be thought more than historical, however; for many romances, including Scott's own historical romance, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, are also frequently called novels, and Scott describes romance as a "kindred term". Romance, as defined here, should not be confused with the genre fiction love romance or romance novel. Other European languages do not distinguish between romance and novel: "a novel is le roman, der Roman, il romanzo."

More about novels...

Selected article

Penelope
The Penelopiad is a novella by Margaret Atwood. It was published in 2005 as part of the first set of books in the Canongate Myth Series where contemporary authors rewrite ancient myths. In The Penelopiad, Penelope reminisces on the events during the Odyssey, life in Hades, and her relationships with her parents, Odysseus, and Helen. A chorus of the twelve maids, who Odysseus believed were disloyal and whom Telemachus hanged, interrupt Penelope's narrative to express their view on events. The maids' interludes use a new genre each time, including a jump-rope rhyme, a lament, an idyll, a ballad, a lecture, a court trial and several types of songs. The novella's central themes include the effects of story-telling perspectives, double standards between the genders and the classes, and the fairness of justice. The book was translated into 28 languages and released simultaneously around the world by 33 publishers. In the Canadian market, it peaked on the best seller lists at number one in MacLean's and number two in The Globe and Mail, but did not place on the New York Times Best Seller list in the American market. Some critics found the writing to be typical of Atwood, even amongst her finest work, while others found some aspects, like the chorus of maids, disagreeable. A theatrical version was co-produced by the Canadian National Arts Centre and the British Royal Shakespeare Company.

Selected novel quote

  • 'You should learn not to make personal remarks,' Alice said with some severity; 'it's very rude.'
    The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, 'Why is a raven like a writing-desk?'
    'Come, we shall have some fun now!' thought Alice. 'I'm glad they've begun asking riddles. — I believe I can guess that,' she added aloud.
    'Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?' said the March Hare.
    'Exactly so,' said Alice.
    'Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on.
    'I do,' Alice hastily replied; 'at least — at least I mean what I say — that's the same thing, you know.'
    'Not the same thing a bit!' said the Hatter. 'You might just as well say that "I see what I eat" is the same thing as "I eat what I see"!'
    'You might just as well say,' added the March Hare, 'that "I like what I get" is the same thing as "I get what I like"!'
    'You might just as well say,' added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, 'that "I breathe when I sleep" is the same thing as "I sleep when I breathe"!'
    'It is the same thing with you,' said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could remember about ravens and writing-desks, which wasn't much.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


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