A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, normally written in prose form, and 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",[1] 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.)

Murasaki Shikibu's Tale of Genji (1010) has sometimes been described as the world's first novel, but there is considerable debate over this — there were certainly long fictional works much earlier. Spread of printed books in China led to the appearance of classical Chinese novels by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Parallel European developments occurred after the invention of the printing press. Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote (the first part of which was published in 1605), is frequently cited as the first significant European novelist of the modern era.[2] Ian Watt, in The Rise of the Novel (1957), suggested that the modern novel was born in the early 18th century.

Walter Scott made a distinction between the novel, in which (as he saw it) "events are accommodated to the ordinary train of human events and the modern state of society" and the romance, which he defined as "a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvellous and uncommon incidents".[3] However, many such romances, including the historical romances of Scott,[4] Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights[5] and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick,[6] are also frequently called novels, and Scott describes romance as a "kindred term". This sort of romance is in turn different from 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, en roman."[7]

Defining the genre

Madame de Pompadour spending her afternoon with a book (François Boucher, 1756)

A novel is a long, fictional narrative which describes intimate human experiences. The novel in the modern era usually makes use of a literary prose style. The development of the prose novel at this time was encouraged by innovations in printing, and the introduction of cheap paper in the 15th century.

The present English (and Spanish) word for a long work of prose fiction derives from the Italian novella for "new", "news", or "short story of something new", itself from the Latin novella, a singular noun use of the neuter plural of novellus, diminutive of novus, meaning "new".[8] Most European languages use the word "romance" (as in French, Dutch, Russian, Slovene, Serbo-Croatian, Romanian, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian "roman"; Finnish "romaani"; German "Roman"; Portuguese "romance" and Italian "romanzo") for extended narratives.

  • A fictional narrative

Fictionality is most commonly cited as distinguishing novels from historiography. However this can be a problematic criterion. Throughout the early modern period authors of historical narratives would often include inventions rooted in traditional beliefs in order to embellish a passage of text or add credibility to an opinion. Historians would also invent and compose speeches for didactic purposes. Novels can, on the other hand, depict the social, political and personal realities of a place and period with clarity and detail not found in works of history.

  • Literary prose

While prose rather than verse became the standard of the modern novel, the ancestors of the modern European novel include verse epics in the Romance language of southern France, especially those by Chrétien de Troyes (late 12th century), and in Middle English (Geoffrey Chaucer's (c. 1343 – 1400) The Canterbury Tales).[9] Even in the 19th century, fictional narratives in verse, such as Lord Byron's Don Juan (1824), Alexander Pushkin's Yevgeniy Onegin (1833), and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh (1856), competed with prose novels. Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate (1986), composed of 590 Onegin stanzas, is a more recent example of the verse novel.[10]

  • Content: intimate experience

Both in 12th-century Japan and 15th-century Europe, prose fiction created intimate reading situations. On the other hand, verse epics, including the Odyssey and Aeneid, had been recited to a select audiences, though this was a more intimate experience than the performance of plays in theaters. A new world of individualistic fashion, personal views, intimate feelings, secret anxieties, "conduct", and "gallantry" spread with novels and the associated prose-romance.

  • Length

The novel is today the longest genre of narrative prose fiction, followed by the novella. However, in the 17th century, critics saw the romance as of epic length and the novel as its short rival. A precise definition of the differences in length between these types of fiction, is, however, not possible.The requirement of length has been traditionally connected with the notion that a novel should encompass the "totality of life."[11]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Roman
Alemannisch: Roman
العربية: رواية (أدب)
aragonés: Novela
asturianu: Novela
Avañe'ẽ: Tembiasagua'u
azərbaycanca: Roman
تۆرکجه: رومان
বাংলা: উপন্যাস
башҡортса: Роман
беларуская: Раман
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Раман
भोजपुरी: उपन्यास
Bikol Central: Nobela
български: Роман
bosanski: Roman
brezhoneg: Romant
буряад: Роман
català: Novel·la
Чӑвашла: Роман
čeština: Román
Cymraeg: Nofel
dansk: Roman
Deutsch: Roman
eesti: Romaan
Ελληνικά: Μυθιστόρημα
español: Novela
Esperanto: Romano
euskara: Eleberri
فارسی: رمان
Fiji Hindi: Novel
føroyskt: Skaldsøga
Frysk: Roman
Gaeilge: Úrscéal
Gaelg: Noaskeeal
Gàidhlig: Nobhail
galego: Novela
贛語: 長篇小說
ગુજરાતી: નવલકથા
한국어: 장편소설
հայերեն: Վեպ
Արեւմտահայերէն: Վէպ
हिन्दी: उपन्यास
hrvatski: Roman
Ido: Romano
Ilokano: Nobela
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: উপন্যাস
Bahasa Indonesia: Novel
íslenska: Skáldsaga
italiano: Romanzo
עברית: רומן
Jawa: Novèl
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಕಾದಂಬರಿ
ქართული: რომანი
kaszëbsczi: Pòwiesc
қазақша: Роман
Kiswahili: Riwaya
Kreyòl ayisyen: Woman
Кыргызча: Роман
Latina: Mythistoria
latviešu: Romāns
Lëtzebuergesch: Roman
lietuvių: Romanas
Limburgs: Roman
magyar: Regény
македонски: Роман
മലയാളം: നോവൽ
मराठी: कादंबरी
მარგალური: რომანი (პროზა)
مصرى: روايه
مازِرونی: رمان
Bahasa Melayu: Novel
Mirandés: Remanse
монгол: Тууж
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဝတ္ထု
Nederlands: Roman (literatuur)
नेपाली: उपन्यास
日本語: 長編小説
нохчийн: Роман
norsk: Roman
norsk nynorsk: Roman
occitan: Roman
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Roman
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਨਾਵਲ
پنجابی: ناول
پښتو: ناول
Patois: Navl
Piemontèis: Romanz (literatura)
polski: Powieść
português: Romance
Runa Simi: Kawsay rikch'a
русиньскый: Роман
русский: Роман
саха тыла: Арамаан
Scots: Novelle
shqip: Romani
sicilianu: Rumanzu
සිංහල: නවකතාව
Simple English: Novel
سنڌي: ناول
slovenčina: Román
slovenščina: Roman
کوردی: ڕۆمان
српски / srpski: Роман
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Roman
Basa Sunda: Novel
suomi: Romaani
svenska: Roman
Tagalog: Nobela
Taqbaylit: Ungal
татарча/tatarça: Роман
тоҷикӣ: Роман
Türkçe: Roman
українська: Роман
اردو: ناول
Tiếng Việt: Tiểu thuyết
walon: Roman
Winaray: Nobela
吴语: 长篇小说
ייִדיש: ראמאן
Zazaki: Roman
žemaitėška: Ruomans (literatūra)
中文: 長篇小說