The novel is a long fictional prose narrative.
The novel is differentiated from the novella and the
short story in terms of length.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NOVEL
There are many possible antecedents of the
modern novel in world literature (e.g. The Arabian
Nights), in Elizabethan prose fiction, and the
French heroic romance.
Miguel Cervantes’s Don Quixote, published in
two volumes, in 1605 and 1615, is considered by
many critics as the closest in form to the novel as
known in the modern times.
The novel, as we know it today, starts in
Britain in the 18th
century at the hands of such
writers as Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding
and Daniel Defoe. Robinson Crusoe (1719),
Moll Flanders (1722) by Defoe and Pamela, (I,
1740; II, 1741) by Samuel Richardson, and
Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding are some of
the first English novels.
Founders of the English Novel
The Romantic Novel
During the first half of 19th
century, the novel reflected
the romantic spirit of the age, which was characterized by
the return to nature and which valued the imagination
over reason and emotion over intellect. The Gothic novel
was one form of the romantic novel; it presented horror
and the supernatural. A good example is Mary Shelley’s
Walter Scott wrote historical novels such as Waverly
(1814) and Ivanhoe (1820). Major romantic novels also
include Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813) Sense
and Sensibility (1811), and Emma (1815). Charlotte
Bronte’s (1816-55) Jane Eyre (1847) and Emily Bronte’s
Wuthering Heights (1847) are also masterpieces of the
Major Novelists of the Romantic
The Victorian Novel:
The Victorian Age is marked roughly by the reign
of Queen Victoria of England from 1837-1901.
The novel was the dominant genre in the Victorian
period. The Victorian novel is characterized by its
realism and its treatment of the social issues of that
period. Charles Dickens (1812-1870) created a host
of unforgettable characters in such novels as Oliver
Twist, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Hard
Times, and A Tale of Two Cities. William Thackeray's
(1811-1863) most famous work is Vanity Fair. George
Eliot's (1819–80) most important works are
Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss and Adam Bede.
Major Victorian Novelists
THE MODERN NOVEL
The modern novel is the novel written in the
modern times-the twentieth century and the end
of the nineteenth century. It necessarily reflects
the aspirations, concerns, fears, ways of thinking,
as well as the artistic and literary taste of the
modern era. The modern scientific discoveries, the
new technologies, the social and political
ideologies, the ideas and the beliefs, and people’s
different conceptions about of themselves and
about the universe at large find their way into the
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MODERN
The modern novel breaks away with many of the literary
conventions of the novel written in the preceding period.
The modern novel is realistic. It attempts at a presenting
a frank image of the world and all aspects of the human
experience. But the modern novel abandons the realism
of the nineteenth century, in which only the sordid
aspects of life are depicted.
The modern novel is more subjective, presenting the
world from the perspective of the individual character,
reflecting his or her biases or distorted vision. A
relativistic perception of reality replaces the objective
views of the whole community.
Morality is relative.
The modern novel is psychological. Under the
influence of the modern theories of Sigmund
Freud, the modern novel tends to reveal the
hidden inner motives behind people’s actions.
The technique of the stream of consciousness
reflects the character’s jumbled flow of
perceptions, memories and feelings.
A break with the linear, developmental, cause-
and-effect presentation of the 'reality‘ and with
the chronological order of the plot mark a large
number of modern novels.
The impact of the two world wars has left its
mark on modern art and literature. A deep sense
of pessimism has replaced the nineteenth-
The first major novelist of the modern period is
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), whose best works
include Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Far from the
Madding Crowd, and Jude the Obscure.
D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) wrote with
understanding about the social life of the lower
and middle classes. His best works include Sons
and Lovers (1913) and The Rainbow (1915).
James Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922),
a landmark work in which Joyce utilizes the stream
of consciousness technique.
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was an
influential feminist and associated with
the stream-of-consciousness technique. Her
novels include Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the
Some Major Modern Novelists
D. H. Lawrence