Tuesday, February 11, 2014
A "Novel" Idea
Literary history is rich and diverse full of many different modes of expression with novels being one of the main formats readers of the modern era crave. But have you ever wondered where the novel originated from or how this form of entertainment came to be?
Well it’s quite simple - the novel is a product of the realism movement.
Unlike today, where any long narrative format is considered a novel, the novel originally started as a long narrative that tried to capture the trials of real people - primary the middle class. It was such a “novel” idea. Before the 1700s almost all long narrative formats were of fantastical nature with characters who just appeared on the page and would then run off in search of mystical holy grails or fight deadly dragons. These tales were more similar to the fantasy novels of the modern era. Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory is a prime example.
However, beginning in the 1600s and exploding in the 1700s writers began to explore the average man, trying to capture their experiences, thoughts, and struggles on the page.
For the first time characters had last names and childhoods. Fantastical elements were pushed to the side in favor of plot devices that showcased issues dealing with poverty, abuse and the domination of a government which forgot about the little man. Readers were able to live through the characters as their emotions and thoughts were explored on the page.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes is considered the first novel; however, the work that is most credited in academic circles with starting the genera is Pamela by Samuel Richardson, which tells the story of a young girl trying to save her virtue from a man determined to seduce her. Sounds like it would have made a great christian novel.
Somewhere along the timeline of history every long narrative format got lumped into being called a novel, with fantasy stories such as Harry Potter taking on “Novel” characteristics by giving their characters last names and origins.
And that my dear readers is how the novel came to be.
Josette Downey is the christian romance author of A Time to Say Goodbye and Bonds of Tradition. She has master’s degree in English From East Carolina University, and currently works for a premier test scoring company. She is the mother of a precocious six-year-old girl, who enjoys bugs, snakes and superman. She enjoys southern cooking, reading and exploring emerging technology, but is best defined by her devotion to her faith and the empowerment of women in the modern world.
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