Talk:Novel/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2


Argh! I can't take it any longer - I'm going to rewrite this article from scatch. CGS 23:04 12 Jul 2003 (UTC).

Definition: what about non-fiction novels?

In the light of the debates developing over the last four decades or so about the non-fiction novel (term first coined in relation to "In Cold Blood", by Truman Capote), I don't agree with a definition of the novel that makes it the 'fictional' part as its main constituent. If we can write non-fiction novels (i.e. novels that contain 'true' facts, events, etc.), then this definition must be changed. Vito Laterza 14:37 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Well, yes - the problem lies, however, much deeper. Take the beginning of Pierre Daniel Huets groundbreaking history of the novel written in 1670 (Traitté de l'origine des romans). It already discusses the problems of the definition - and that is the problem already in 1670: We do not reach a stable point once we speak about "fiction". Fiction can be a thin disguise under which real histories are told (as ist the case in autobiographical novels, in historical novels or in the roman à clef). The point remains that even if the events are real, i.e. "true history" they reach a different status in case of the novel. They somehow grow beyond their historical truth - they can be read as if they were fiction and enjoyed for their art, their deeper meaning, their construction etc. Fiction is just not only "invented", "feigned", "not true" - it is rather: constructed from Latin fingere, to make up, create... the problem is not the non-fictional novel it is the difficult definition of fiction.
PS: I gave this patter for the situation around 1700 to make that clear: Fiction reached out into truth even then... (and the demarcation lines were much more blurred then, than the are today where we have open discussions about fiction and literature - back then people handled the demaraction line rather with fun and a most peculiar readiness for scandal). --Olaf Simons 16:53, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
I have to agree with Vito Laterza. Clearly, there is a broader definition of novel in use that includes novels like In Cold Blood. This is a post-modern trend that has nothing to do with the definition in the 1600s or 1700s, but it is a notable POV that has to be represented. Therefore, I altered the definition. COGDEN 03:52, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I must disagree with all that consider novels to include works of non-fiction. looking in encarta, the definition (in both dictionary and encyclopedia) is that it is a work of fiction. this is in the first sentence of the entry. this is also a part of the popular definition of novel. In Cold Blood, despite the author's claims to the contrary, is a form of non-fiction (albeit with some creative liberties of narration). In disagreement with the above entry, I assert that a categorization of "novel" that includes non-fiction is NOT a notable POV among the general public (those who are most likely to read this article), and should not be represented.

Decameron and Novella

Chinasaur cut The Decameron from the list, with the comment

Decameron is a collection of folktales flimsily linked together; I don't think it qualifies.

I restored it. One of the points of this page is that there is disagreement about what constitutes a novel. Maybe I should make the controversy a bit clearer, as in the First novel in English article. Gdr 07:56, 2004 Apr 19 (UTC)

That's fine if you really think it belongs here, but even if you're stretching the definitions I'd still say this is way on the margin of what could qualify. I don't know if this was part of your point, but I'll note that nothing written on the First novel in English would seem to qualify Decameron. The picaresque style mentioned there is a series of disconnected stories about one character, quite different from the Decameron, a series of unrelated folk tales drawn from prexisting sources and strung together within a loose story framework that is more historical/mystical than narrative. --Chinasaur 17:16, Apr 19, 2004 (UTC)
The Decameron has a "frame story" which links the tales together. I agree that it stretches the definition of "novel", but I don't think it exceeds it. No literary form has precise boundaries: at the margins there are works which are ambiguous (novel or collection? short novel or short story? poetic novel or epic poem?).
And if you exclude The Decameron you would also have to exclude If on a winter's night a traveller by Italo Calvino. But everyone calls that a novel. Gdr 15:36, 2004 May 13 (UTC)
Interesting point, this does seem to be a fine line because I think I would count the Calvino book. In IOAWNAT there are for one thing alternating chapters, so roughly half the book is devoted to what seems to be a single narrative (in second person singular). Most of all though, IOAWNAT is, in some sense, a cohesive book with a single guiding voice, though it's narrative may be postmodernly disjointed. Decameron has no comparable sense of cohesion; it is essentially what I have already described: a collection of folk-tales linked with short excursions into the frame tale.
The salient feature of the frame tale of the Decameron is that nothing happens; no central problem arises (other than escaping the plague, which is resolved by the end of the introduction), no characters develop or have meaningful relationships, etc.. That's why most consider the frame tale more of historical interest than of narrative value. If I had to summarize the "story" of the frame tale, I could probably give you two sentences worth reading (for narrative interest). If I tried to stretch it into anything more than that, you would find it incredibly boring ("Fiammetta passed the crown to Dioneo, and Emilia sang a song, and Dioneo picked a new topic, and they all danced and ate dinner, and they woke up and walked around the villa, and they each told a story according to Dioneo's prescription, and then they laughed and Dioneo passed the crown to etc. etc. etc.).
Oh well, that's my input, so do with it what you will. I reiterate that if Decameron is going to stay, then I think Arabian Nights should be added, despite the difficulties of determining an author/date of writing. --Chinasaur 17:36, May 13, 2004 (UTC)
I'll remove it. Gdr 13:45, 2004 May 16 (UTC)
Have you readed Quevedo's El buscón? It's not a serie of disconnected stories about one character.
Nope, haven't read that one, but my understanding of it is that it covers the life of Don Pablo, so unless I'm missing something it does sound like a series of stories about one character. If your point is that they're not disconnected stories, then that is only supporting my original point even more... At any rate, hopefully we can all agree that Decameron is not a picaresque; it's a frame tale in which the frame is mostly of historical/sociological interest and has little narrative value. Here's some questions for you:
  1. If the Brothers Grimm had placed a frame tale around their stories, for example an old German grandmother telling the stories, would that make the collectino a novel?
  2. Why isn't the Arabian Nights on this list? If Decameron can even marginally qualify, then seems to me Arabian Nights should definitely be in there (admittedly I haven't read Arabian Nights...).
Yes, I'm supporting your original point. Decameron is not a novel, is a colection of novellas. Also, Lazarillo is too short to be considered a novel. It's a precedent of picaresque novel.
Also, I'm not too happy about the "and novella" allowance. If you mean, "and short novels", then you should say that; "novella" has a somewhat different connotation in its original Italian context. If you mean "and novella" in the original Italian sense, then you're pretty explicitly stretching the definition of novel. --Chinasaur 17:45, May 9, 2004 (UTC)

List of Novels

I moved my earlier comment into this heading:

Also, what is the idea behind the list of modern novels? Obviously this could spin completely out of control. I can see that right now we're restricting to some really representative/famous examples, but other people are likely to come along and decide they need to add to the list. --Chinasaur 17:37, May 9, 2004 (UTC)

In answer to Elf's question, yeah the list of novels seems like kind of a bad idea to me. So far I think we're doing okay though at keeping it to really decidedly well known examples. I think the guiding principle for any additions to the list in the 19th or 20th century categories should be overriding popular cultural awareness of the work. That's why I added C&P, Great Expectations, Les Mis, etc.: acknowledged "classics". I think to be on the list, a book should at least have an article too, so I motion to expell Fortunata y Jacinta. --Chinasaur 04:48, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I removed Gulliver's Travels from the list of 18c novels because it is not generally considered a novel by scholars and the list seemed the place for novels that are generally accepted as such. --Awadewit


Someone keeps changing the article to make Melville and Twain "English", as in they wrote in English. Seems better to me to specify that they're American as everyone can still infer that they wrote in English and that way no one will be mislead into thinking they are European. --Chinasaur 04:48, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)

But for other novels the entry gives the language in which the novel was written. For example, Thomas More was English but wrote in Latin. Maybe it's not a good idea to give the language of the work or the nationality of the author. Gdr 15:36, 2004 Jul 20 (UTC)
Actually, some of the links for this are very messed up. For example, we have [[William Faulkner]] ... [[English language|American]], but [[Mario Vargas Llosa]], [[Spanish language|Spanish]]. May I suggest we give both nationality and language, and that we also don't link the same nationality and language over and over? -- Jmabel | Talk 17:47, Dec 7, 2004 (UTC)
Why don't we give just the nationality, as the language will (generally) be self-evident. And perhaps we should use "British" instead of "English" to make everything clearer. --Awadewit

Popping in here. The article confusingly labels James Joyce as "English". He was Irish, of course. The English tag, no doubt, refers to the language used to write Ulysses. But the context is not clear, and the unitiated may think that Joyce was an Englishman.

I am going to have to disagree with most of what has been written here. Firstly, as an article about novels, surely the language that is of primary importance is the language that the novel is composed in, rather than the provenance of the author. If a reader is interested in the origins of the author, they can follow the link to the article about that author. As we are concerned with the form of the novel, rather than the literary traditions of different countries (which are dealt with in their respective articles), it seems to me that the writer's nationality is of inferior importance. I certainly don't think the language will be self-evident by any means, Nabokov's novels in English, for example, or Le Morte D'Arthur- the title suggests it is in French. In the interests of clarity and relevance to this article, I believe it should be made clear that the languages given are those that the novels were written in, and if the reader wants authorial information, they can click the link to said author. Secondly, I believe it would be grossly erroneous to suggest that all authors originating from the British Isles should be labelled "British"- No such language exists, and no such country existed prior to 1707, or 1800 depending on how you interpret "Britain" (another reason not to use this label). This is also derogatory to Welsh, Scottish, English and possibly also to Irish literary traditions; they all have varied, multi-lingual histories and it is an extremely unfair generalization to plaster the billboard of "British" over them all. SilhouetteSaloon 20:42, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)
"I am going to have to disagree with most of what has been written here. Firstly, as an article about novels, surely the language that is of primary importance is the language that the novel is composed in, rather than the provenance of the author." I disagree. I think that a novelist's culture is just as important as his language. For example, if Joyce were simply an "English" novelist his work would have a far different impact on the history of literature, because he was writing at the time when Irish culture was blooming. This distinction is therefore important because it tells us where he was coming from and some of the reasons behind him writing it. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 23 April 2006.
Even more simply put, language is an aspect of culture, and springs from culture. Understanding that Homer composed his Odyssey and Iliad in Greek does not at all aid in understanding the context in which the poems were composed. To claim that language is all that matters seems to imply that, had Homer chosen to compose in Persian, but tell the same story, this fact would be of supreme importance--and that's obviously preposterous. The Odyssey and Iliad are wonderful examples of literary works that would not be what they are if not for the cultural context of their composition--of their author. Those poems could only have been written in Greek, because the Greek language is an aspect of the Greek culture, and the Odyssey stripped of Greek culture would be a blank manuscript. - 05:26, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Very comprehensive definition of novel

I was really struck by how much the author(s) of this page have included under the definition and description of novel. I must say that I disagree. As an 18c scholar, I clearly have a bias, but most of the scholarship on the novel does not push it back further than Don Quixote, and rightly so, I feel. The already amorphous notion of the novel becomes even harder to circumscribe once you go beyond that text. Also, if you read some of the more literary historical works on the novel (such as J.P. Hunter's Before Novels and Lennard Davis' Factual Fictions) it becomes clear that the form could not have existed before journalism.

I wonder if there is some way to reflect this debate a little bit more evenly on the page? I wanted to post this comment and receive feedback before I made any dramatic changes or statements. --Awadewit

Try writing something and see how it goes. Wikipedia:Be bold in editing. There is certainly a need for an explanation of the historical origin of the word "novel" in the 17th century and of critical conceptions of the novel.
But a concept like "novel" doesn't belong to the people who coined it, nor even to academics who study it. It's true that as originally used, "novel" meant something more specific than "long work of fiction in prose" (and this article needs a section on that original use). But now the term "novel" is used very widely, encompassing long works of romance, science fiction, detective fiction, fictionalized history and autobiography, and experimental fiction of all sorts. With this loose modern concept in mind, we can look past the historical origin of the term "novel" and see many earlier examples that fall into the category.
You might like to take a look at the article on the first novel in English which considers some of these points. Gdr 16:36, 2004 Jul 20 (UTC)

Opening definition and list

I have altered some parts of the definition/characteristics of the novel in an effort to make it/them more precise. I also moved the exceptions to another paragraph to make the list easier to read. We can add more exceptions, but I thought that the list should stand alone. What does everyone else think? --Awadewit

Point of View

I think that this section should be moved to the "point of view (literature)" page because it is not a literary device unique to the novel. Maybe there could be a couple of lines in the definition section about how novels usually use either 1st or 3rd person narration.

Paul Eldridge

Is Paul Eldridge really a major enough figure to belong in our short list of African American novelists? I've never read him, myself, but I've also never really had anyone tell me he should be high on the list of authors I should seek out. -- Jmabel | Talk 18:31, Jan 6, 2005 (UTC)

I agree. Once we work on the 20c section more, the list will increase dramatically, so we should try to hold back now. -- Awadewit 7 January 2005


Someone just added "Nelson Kortsha, Oakland U (1969)". I've never heard of this person or book. Zero Google hits, other than ourselves. I am deleting. -- Jmabel | Talk 21:27, Jan 9, 2005 (UTC)


We really need to have a policy on how we handle nationality and language in the article. I think, for example, that it is fine that we are clarifying that certain writers are "Irish" or "Scottish" – in literary matters, these are nations – but then those from England should be "English" not merely "British". -- Jmabel | Talk 06:06, Jan 8, 2005 (UTC)

The problem with "English" is that readers seemingly get confused between the nationality and the language (see above in other comments). That's why I chose British. -- Awadewit 11 January 2005
Yes, but we end up with a situation where (to paraphrase Musil on "Austro-Hungarian") British is English, plus Scottish and Welsh, minus Scottish and Welsh. -- Jmabel | Talk 18:22, Jan 12, 2005 (UTC)
I agree. Just use English-language as a designation to avoid the confusion, as in 'James Joyce is an English-language Irish novelist.' Filiocht 12:50, Jan 13, 2005 (UTC)

Novel v. Romance

User:Corvun hasn't yet explained the removal of a sentence, so I will revert that edit. In defining "novel" a contrast with the "romances" that preceded it is useful. Zeimusu | Talk 08:35, 17 Mar 2005 (UTC)

EXCUSE ME! The server went down exactly as I was explaining the removal of the false statement. In the future, I suggest you be more mindful and courteous to your fellow Wikipedeans than to assume laziness on their part because of a problem with the 'pedia's servers.
Any way, I removed "and is not usually composed of the traditional plots of myth and legend (contrast with romance)" Because it is in direct opposition to reality. Fantasy novels make extensive use of traditional plots of myth and legend, as do science fiction novels, horror novels, and romance novels. --Corvun 11:55, Mar 17, 2005 (UTC)
Calling an edit where there is substantive, sincere disagreement "vandalism", as you did in your edit summary, is a good way to make enemies, and not only of the person you are accusing of vandalism. So is failing to presume good faith (this user, depending on when he/she was logged in, may not even have been aware the server was down for the better part of a day). You have a lot of nerve lecturing discourteously on courtesy. -- Jmabel | Talk 18:18, Mar 17, 2005 (UTC)
Substantive, sincere disagreement? Where? From whom? Can you name one single person who feels that novels usually aren't composed of the traditional plots of myth and legend? Who would argue that point? Perhaps someone who isn't aware of the existence of the enormous volume of novels (such as science fiction and fantasy) that do make use of traditional plots from myth and legend. Honestly, where is there any disagreement about this? Maybe "vandalism" was too harsh a word -- perhaps I should have said "intentional misinformation". --Corvun 22:53, Mar 17, 2005 (UTC)
I'm not going to be drawn into a farting match. My previous comments stand. -- Jmabel | Talk 00:58, Mar 18, 2005 (UTC)
Not unless you can support them.
There's plenty of disagreement over whether "literary" novels should be separated from "genre" novels, but the key word in both is novel. I don't know of anyone who would claim that a "genre novel" isn't a novel. The claim that novels are "not usually composed of the traditional plots of myth and legend (contrast with romance)" is thus not only untrue, but completely nonsensical -- contradicting itslef by asking the reader to contrast what it says about the novel with romance, a genre in which many, many novels have been published. The statement obviously violates NPOV, but is so completely and wholly illucid that even its POV is difficult to understand. The sentence might as well have read "Blooga bugga gloop munga". So, yes, I consider its re-insertion to be an act of vandalism. --Corvun 02:23, Mar 18, 2005 (UTC)

Collective nouns

"There are/is a small number of central characters.": Either verb may be used with a collective noun such as "number." "Are" sounds better to me in this case. logologist 22:16, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I agree. Go ahead and change it if you want. By the way, what does "UTC" mean? I see it at the bottom of everyone's talk page time stamps. --Simpsnut14 16:51, 17 Apr. 2005

  • Coordinated Universal Time. The order in the acronym reflects the French-language name. It used to be known as GMT ("Greenwich Mean Time"). -- Jmabel | Talk 03:54, Apr 18, 2005 (UTC)

Lists of genre novels

At the risk of barging in here and offending people, the lists of genre novels seem bogus to me. There is no preface to the lists to explain why they're in the article and how they were chosen. The list of fantasy and science fiction novels seems like a random list of idiosyncratic personal favorites. Why two Philip K. Dick novels, for example, and none by Heinlein? Why Terry Pratchett and not Piers Anthony? It seems to me that the place for this sort of thing is one of's personal lists, or one of the wikipedia variants that encourages personal opinions in addition to NPOV encyclopedic writing. It also omits some important categories, like romance novels and westerns. I'm going to go ahead and replace it with a simple bullet list of links to the individual articles on the genres. If anyone feels that lists like these do serve some need, I'd suggest they reintroduce some lists, but make an effort to explain within the article why the lists are there and how they were selected.--Bcrowell 19:16, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Translation of the German article

If there are people around who can read German you might take a look at the article on the history of the novel I produced over there ("Roman") - in German I am afraid, but with a good deal of information on the international history of the novel including illustrations of original title pages. The thing over there is designed to lead into the 19th century where articles on the different national traditions should take over (and it is still somewhat weak on the Greek tradition and the middle ages), yet may be a thing to give a history rather than lists of novels with a few words on Defoe and the alleged rise of the novel he is said to have generated. (The word "novel" is older, and Defoe's titles were not novels when they first appeared, they were rather romances answering the wave of novels which had followed those of Aphra Behn and her generation - which again had followed the novel Cervantes and Scarron revived...). The traditions of novels of other literatures - such as China, Japan, should also, so I think, rather be added with individual articles on these literatures (as these literatures themselves have been mostly created since the 19th century to produce what is now the tradition of literatures of the world). --Olaf Simons 9 Jun 2005

  • That's at de:Roman, if anyone is interested, and it looks like there is a lot of material worthy of translation. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:54, Jun 14, 2005 (UTC)
see: User:Saintswithin/Draft translations
Note - I have now rewritten the article, yet I confess, I am not bold enough to remove the present article. The one I wrote offers all the lists the present article provides, so no big loss if it is transferred; it can be found under User:Saintswithin/Draft translations where it began as a translation. It will need, however, and that is why I am careful about it, the revision of native speakers (and two additional chapters on the 19th and 20th centuries - they are promised). May be this note can prevent ongoing work on both articles; best --Olaf Simons 08:26, 6 August 2005 (UTC)

Hm, - first my thanks to User:Saintswithin and Jmabel who did a marvellous job to make my lines sound English. What began as a mere version is better now than its German counterpart.

The article which stood here before was fragmented. It focussed on Defoe and on the rise of sentimentalism in the late 18th century - yet most of its text comprised of lists of titles, which I have now moved to the end. The 19th and 20th centuries are, I am afraid, not my field of work - yet, fortunately, this is a medium of many people working together. I enjoyed the cooperation and inspiration and hope the new artice will offer its own inspiration. Whether to include the Decameron and the Novella and the Arabian Nights (the first question discussed with the prior article)? Most certainly - these and the tradition of romances! --Olaf Simons 05:46, 12 August 2005 (UTC)

Polish novels

How come the amount of Polish novels is so high on the list of remarkable novels? Many of the titles don't even have a Wikipedia page behind them. I have a hard time believing Poland should be more prominent on the list than, say, Russia/Soviet Union: currently the ratio is 12 to 2½ (Nabokov being Russian-American). (anon 3 July 2005)

  • ... and the Pole Conrad, writing in English, is simply listed as Polish, which seems wrong. Poland might be over-represented in the list as it stands, but I suspect the issue is more that Russia is underrepresented. -- Jmabel | Talk July 3, 2005 23:56 (UTC)

Really,polish novels are way over-represented.Something should be done about this. Stefan Udrea 10:17, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

How long is a novel?

I just deleted the following piece of information which had crept into the definition but which might be discussed here with much greater freedom: "The average length of novels is about 60 000 words." - info from "CD-ROM", so the edit claimed.

It might not be clever to give such numbers - whatever authority one could quote. First the length does not define the thing - the discussion of novels (which attributes the word to texts under discussion) is quite flexible here. Secondly: statistics are extremely uncertain in this case. What is the sample and who has defined it? (The question is particularly intriguing since the body of texts taken into account will have been defined by a secret pre-definition of length now reappearing in the statistcal result).

The article I revised had opened with a comparison of the novel and the novella and concluded "The novel is longer (at least 40,000 words)" - I found this number equally odd. Both numbers together would imply that the regular novel of 60,000 words is only one third longer than it needs to be, if it does not want to fall into the category of "novella". It will be better to think of genres as growing bodies of texts. There is a production of titles which share a certain design, certain title formulas, may be the word "novel" on the title page... and this whole body of texts is in constant change together with the discussions attributing such terms. --Olaf Simons 15:37, 13 August 2005 (UTC)

Agreed. Conversely, it probably would probably be worth citing some representative list (like the Modern Library's "100 best") and indicate the range of lengths. -- Jmabel | Talk 01:15, August 14, 2005 (UTC)

I think a section on definitions might be in order. For example, one man's novel is another man's novella ... at what point does a novel become a short novel ... etc. 23skidoo 13:57, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

Novelette has a list of word legnths according to the Hugo and Nebulae awards. It defines novel as "40,000-200,000 words". HereToHelp 02:15, 9 October 2005 (UTC)
Which is fine in terms of use in the science fiction world, but doesn't mean much outside of it. -- Jmabel | Talk 03:39, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
Interesting is, that the same word count in different languages gives quite different overall novel length in characters and this means also in volume. So the word count is really very arbitrary. -- Aethralis 19:35, 30 October 2005 (UTC)
For what it's worth, the average Victorian three-decker was 165,000 words... Shimgray | talk | 11:56, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

Where does this article get off claiming that a novel is at least 300 pages in length? There are a great many novels that do not meet this criteria. Would anyone seriously claim that books like Heart of Darkness, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Great Gatsby, Lord of the Flies--to name a few--aren't novels? I do not understand why this article feels the need to reference any length whatsoever. The Odyssey, for example, is not a novel per sé, but a poem--yet it is significantly longer than the majority of most books. Heart of Darkness, on the other hand, is indeed a novel of great fame, yet is typically rendered at less than 100 pages by publishers. The number of pages in a work has nothing, nothing, to do with whether or not it is a novel. If we're going to define a novel, the defining characteristics ought to be that it tells a story, is written in prose, and is intended to be read (rather than performed). I'm deleting any mention of some editor's arbitrary length criteria. - 05:18, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Dear unnamed user - I agree with thee. It does not make sense to define the "novel" by its length. You could possibly invent a three line novel (if only I remembered that sequence of Peanuts where Snoopy lies on the top of his roof with the first sentence of his novel - reading it, I felt, there is just as well a middle section and a good end, and you will have a good three sentence novel most definitely...)
Fact is: I stopped intevening - the length decisions were a continuous matter of debate, the numbers got changed every now and then and I understood this as a peculiar Anglo-Saxon urge to speak about length as a definitive criterion. The whole question has its own history in the Anglo-Saxon world with the debate Defoe's contemporaries enjoyed. The question was then: how long can a novel become - without becoming a detested romance? Publishers split longer prose fictions into seperate novels (by offering their individual chapters as separate individual novels). The novel was an extended short story (what we now call a novella). If it grew longer it was a romance and an object of hate.
Things changed in the middle of the 18th century when Defoe's Robinson Crusoe became a classic - though hopefully not a classic of the detested romance and when Fielding, writing his Joseph Andrews, suddenly claimed to have written a "comic epic in prose". One had to redifine the good and beloved novel to embrace both these new and long things (which one did not want to become romances) - and one did this basically through a definition of length - the novel became a long epic in prose. If they were short they had, from now onwards, to be something else: short stories or novellas, both words were now designed to mark a short performance. The once hated romances became novels - we can today speak of Heliodorus Chariclia being a "novel" - Defoe would have been puzzled about any such option. The whole length-debate is an echo of the peculiar shift from
  • romance = long (and tedious) and novel = short (and good)


  • novel = long (and fascinating) and novella = short and concise (and no less fascinating for that) --Olaf Simons 08:28, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Here the original comic [1] and here Snoopy's complete novel (do not know who authored this) for all who those who think that a novel is defined by length - it definitely is not - Snoopy's novel is no short stroy and no novella, even though it is extremely short: [2] - the first sentence was "It was a dark and stormy night" - and that very sentence offered already the epic dimensions of the novel with all its possibile sequences orf adventures - did not Robinson Crusoe open with this line in the widle of the battle with the waves? (no not really, Defoe made a mistake here.)

Contrary to the above (anonymous) rant, Heart of Darkness claims to be a novella. I wonder why. Llamabr 17:06, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

The "rant" was mine. The term novella has its own definition - in which length again is not the decisive point. A novella is supposed to offer a story as an example of something else - a moral maxim, an observation of how man tends to react... The plot structure is not a series of adventures but something leading to a point. Conrad seems to have thought of a kind of advice: do not read my story as a depiction of what actually happened at that place, read it rather as a condensed plot of quite another exemplary significance... --Olaf Simons 09:43, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
Maybe so, but then it would look like the first sentence of Heart of Darkness needs an edit. Llamabr —Preceding comment was added at 20:11, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Asian novel

I just cut the following:

Below is a summation of the development of the Anglo-European novel. It should be noted however that Asia developed the novel independently, and the two traditions didn't coalesce until the late nineteenth century.

I'd really like to see a well sourced section on the history of novels in Asia. Does this refer to the Tale of Genji tradition in Japan? However on it's own the paragraph doesn't help so much. Zeimusu | Talk page 00:36, 2005 August 24 (UTC)

I agree with the criticism and feel we should have a chapter - possibly where the developments came together - i.e. in the 19th century where we can still look back on China's tradition. As a book market historian I'd be especialy interested to learn how these novels survived in China. Were they copied, was there a distribution, did they survive in single copies in private libraries? Who read them? (Prose novels, especially long ones, need a complex culture of literal copying as long as the multiplication is not done through printing presses) --Olaf Simons 07:21, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
(presumably "tradite" ==> "translate") -- Jmabel | Talk 18:12, August 24, 2005 (UTC) - is there hinestly no verb for tradition? To tradite something from one generation to the next? To hand down, to bequeath, you are normaly so easy about verbs (a captain and to captain a ship...) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Olaf Simons (talkcontribs) 25 Aug 2005
Ah, I was thinking the wrong cognate. No such verb in English. We'd say something like "to hand down as part of the tradition" or "to pass on / perpetuate/ etc. as a tradition". -- Jmabel | Talk 04:56, August 25, 2005 (UTC)

Trim links

I'm relatively new to Wiki, so pardon me if I've not followed proper form on this page, but I think the links should be severely trimmed, to no more than three examples per section. This is not bias, simply for wieldiness. Many of these novels are unknown outside their own countries and their impact on the world is negligible. It seems that people want to nominate only their faves, rather than give a good entry. I added A Tree Grows In Brooklyn for example, and I think that is far more worthy than many entries that don't even have articles. I'm sorry, but obscure 17th century Slavic novels simply have not had the impact that the works of a Hugo nor Kafka have. Nor do many of the pre-Quixote works cited, especially since, by definition, things such as Le Morte D'Arthur fall under Romances, as described within. The Tale Of Genji, yes- the rest are simply not as well known. As for the Greek examples- many are not novels in any form, simply fictive discourses, and some were written in verse originally. I really think this entry is as flabby as some out of shape boxer and needs some real dieting. The first thing to be trimmed are the ungodly long links. The 19th and 20th Centuries may get 7 or 8 links, but before that, stick to 3- such as Shandy, Jones and Crusoe in the 18th C. Does anyone really believe the other works are on par in terms of influence? Perhaps they surpass the 3 in quality, but quality's not the issue, relevance is. Am I spitting in the wind on this? --Iago Dali | Talk

And here we are, you added a title I have never heard of. All things are relative. Yet something else: The good dictionary should lead you to titles you have not heard of. I find it terribly important to get the info about the first Polish novel - it is a latecomer on the world's market of novels telling you much about the whole concept of fiction (id did not reach the slavonic languages for quite some time). The list is, as far as I see quite good and it deserves to grow a bit longer especially with the dark centuries and the nations outside the English speaking world. It should (as I was just thinking of English titles) also comprise Aphra Behn's Love-Letters between a Nobleman and his Sister (1684/85/87), the first modern epistolary novel. Read the entry Epistolary novel and you will learn that Richardson's Pamela (1740) was the first - which is definitely wrong and misleading (the whole genre has a soft history with no real first title but a number of fictitious international collections preparing the ground for Aphra Behn's exciting story of a woman with the most independent frame of mind...). The article which tells you what you alredy know will most certainly offer an immediate satisfaction (your knowledge is good). Yet should not one rather go for an article which will widen ones horizon - and which will then offer links for in-depth-information. I was quite happy about the well chosen list, it made me think of developments an article on this topic should cover... --Olaf Simons 18:38, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

But, Olaf. You've made the point. You may feel it's terribly important to link to the first novel of this or that group, but I counter, then link to a subpage, or page on Polish novels. Would not a leaner initial entry, with foliating sub-entries be better? I'm sure I could treble this list w/o breaking a sweat, and with far more historically and artistically significant novels than many listed, many I'm sure few would know. That does not deal with the issue raised, which is, as an entry this is merely a portal to further discussions. The entry should be concise, but compelling, but not all-encompassing. Red Darwin 20:44, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

Furthermore, as a practical issue, it would seem that links to articles with types of novels, or novels grouped by nationalities would be better, as well as easier to navigate. Red Darwin 20:49, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

Also, I see there is a category for genre novels. This seems a better setup. Those links can then get into some of the staples of sf, westerns, and romances. For example, there is already a page for African-American Literature and Latin American novel boom. I think it makes better sense to place links there with less links on this page, but focused to those more in depth links. Red Darwin 20:55, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

My main point is merely an echo of Chinasaur's above, in 'List Of Novels'- where does a list like this end- at 50, 100, 1000 novels? This may seem like a bias against lesser known works, but is it an encyclopedia's job to 'even things out'? Or should it reflect what others have chosen? Olaf mentions Euro novels, and recently works by Hungarian novelist Sandor Marai have been republished in Europe and America, but long after his suicide. I think he's good, maybe better than Kundera--but does my opinion supersede that of the public's, which has made one obscure and the other a bestseller? I see this merely as a practical, not aesthetic issue, and have seen that many pages have similar quandaries, with some looking to trim their size under 32k. Could not space used for links be better served in enriching the text. That seems to me of more importance than the links. Iago Dali 21:27, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

Well, I'd like this list offer those novels which wrote the history of the genre (hence I am not so sure about the A Tree Grows In Brooklyn-entry). The article will not be able give the history of all the novels in all the world’s literatures (it hence concentrates on the evolution of genres leading towards our present concept) – here the list has an advantage over the preceding text. It can lead into different directions.
I am far from a list of personal favourites. Yet very happy about decisive texts and about the strict chronology – it shows you how far different national literature actually were with fictions of their own production (even if these titles were only discovered by us in the 19th and 20th centuries). Hence my plea for texts which set the course of genre developments and for texts which could compete with these at the time when they were written. --Olaf Simons 21:47, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
I'm not attached to the entry I added, by any means. I simply added it because of its prominence in the 20th C. If it goes, fine. But, seriously there shd be looks taken into many of these books. As I said- some were verse novels- and they should be put there. Others are prose, but not novels even as others on this page have defined it. And some are flat out Romances- per the definitions given- not my own. It just seems there comes a limit when a spiderweb goes from being beautiful to look at and then becomes just a lump of silk.Iago Dali 22:41, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
I have not compiled the list I happen to defend here, yet up to the 1850s I'd argue: it is very well selected, just as it embraces medieval romances and versified collections of what we call novellas today. These things belong into the very tradition which created the novel. Do we need to wory about the page's length?
As to the question of genres, one might well think of a sub-page on the variety of novels as they exist today on the modern world market or western market. It would be a challenging task to structure such a page... (I am just thinking about it as a book market historian - hm, that would be a very good exercise, I wonder whether there exist specialists dealing with the modern market who could create such a thing out of their professional experience in the publishing business. I have done such studies for the European early 18th century and the German market of the 1920s and 1930s, reading my way through centemporary catalogues and journals and taking a look at 100% samples of novels published on the same market at a certain time - that's quite some work...) --Olaf Simons 00:02, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
I question not the validity of the chain of novels cited by you, nor anyone else, simply the bulk and its relevence to an entry. Again, entries are not supposed to be monographs, agreed? You state "of what we call novellas today. These things belong into the very tradition which created the novel. Do we need to wory about the page's length?' and semiotically I agree, to a point. But, there is a reason some fiction is called a short story, a novella, a novellette, or a novel, and- as these have entries I would state a simple taxonomy be followed, as in the case of ethnic or philosophic traditions. Suppose a Heinlein fan argued that this entry ignores sci fi? Would we have to alot 20 entries on all the sci fi classics- from Verne to the contemporaries? Then, what of the westerns? It cd be argued that they are being short-shrifted. Having seen some of the growth I fear there is a links version of The Blob at hand, that may swallow this entry whole. Any other opinions? Iago Dali 00:35, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

I don't see much that I'd trim. It looks like a good list to me. I'm only familiar with about half of the works in the list, but as far as I can tell, it's an appropriate list.

I don't see any danger of someone revising this to a list of genre novels. I think it's pretty clear that genre novels are something other than literary novels (and while there may be some intersection, it sure isn't Heinlein!). -- Jmabel | Talk 04:09, September 3, 2005 (UTC)

I'm only familiar with about half of the works in the list

To me, this seems the key part of the argument. I count 91 links, not including links to genre work, nor those 'in text'. Not to seem to suck up, but a quick look at your edits, Jmabel, show you seem to be reasonably well informed on the subject. Yet, the fact that half the works are unknown to you says it all. Not to mention the fact that many are by this entry's definition, Romances, or verse works, or- to quote the Xenophon nod- "largely fictional account", which a novel is by definition not. Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, as another- is not a novel- but a collection of tales whose interior universe's often are in conflict. It is not even, by modern standards, a novel in shorty story form. And this has nothing to do with not recognizing blurred boundaries, but outright factually wrong information. Olaf may be fond of Polish novels, but save for Quo Vadis none of the others have reached the heights of fame nor recognition as the other novels by Flaubert, Hugo, Melville, Tostoy, Dostoevsky. These links clearly show a bias--one would think by reading this list that Poles have dominated literature the last century or so, and that Russians were mere slackers by comparison. This is simply false. I think the Polish Wikipedia's entry is the place for this--or Polish literature. Again, the quality is not at issue, but the relevence. Similarly, to show there's not a bias for English language writers, the Brontes are a dubious pair--even by Jmabel's idea of literary. Yes, their novels are famed, but are they really of the quality of Moby-Dick or Les Mis? How about Du Maurier's Rebecca, or Gone with the Wind; or even The Da Vinci Code? I suspect that some would object to such works being accorded a "literary" stature, yet their cultural impact cannot be denied. Similarly, while More's Utopia can rightly be considered a novel, it is in the dystopian genre, so why is it not accorded a place there? If sci fi and romances are ghettoized, then why not dystopian works? My point is there is no rhyme or reason to these links, and claims to the contrary only contradict themselves. Also, one link per author might help. It may seem 'inclusive' to have Aphra Behn, but few who have read her work, myself included, would put her in a league with Melville, Tostoy, Hugo, Twain. You may disagree- fine; but is she worth two entries to their one? Perhaps you can argue Cervantes should get two as the founder of the 'modern' novel, but Aphra Behn? I could add a few dozen more links without breaking a sweat, to far more name novels across cultures, than appear here. Yet, I suspect that there would be a lot of haggling. I'm stating that some restraint should be shown--to be taxonomically correct in genres (weed out non-novels as stated above), reflect works that had an impact beyond just one nation's borders--and cut American works, too!, but also reflect the "literary" standards Jmabel notes. Because I can easily foresee PC culture wars coming from Latinos or Indians, or blacks who see so many Polish or early Asian works (and why not modern Asians like Oe or Murakami or Endo-- or Asian-Americans like Jhumpa Lahiri or Amy Tan-- she not 'literate enough'?) that we soon end up with 3 or 400 links to even far more dubious works. Cannot we come to a quorum and cut the 91 at least under 50? We could get under 70 by just removing those that were not novels. 50 links seems far more than enough links for any possible subject. 25 or 30 would be better, but 50 should suffice, and then if someone wants to replace a second Aphra Behn with an Amy Tan there can be another quorum. This seems to make eminent sense, and then with restraint and discretion already being shown it is much easier to object to things others may want to add for political or religious or social or simply personal reasons. It would also free up space to add some links to essays or monographs on typical or famed novels. I've just seen too many pages devolve into wars, and worse--simply poorly written and structured entries--to not want to forestall it happening here. Another side note--I notice that many of the listed definitions for genres as novellas or novels or short stories seem to conflict. Yes, there may be disagreements, but word limits, or genre definitions should be in accord on all entries, with the proviso that there is conflict. This another example of the disarray so many entries face. I feel that these suggestions are not controversial--certainly not in the way arguments over capital punishment or abortion are. These are simply issues of clarity and concision; and again, I'm not trying to get "all my way"- let a quorum decide on the 50 links. If the Brontes stay in favor of Nabokov, so be it. If a Turgenev gets a fair hearing vis-a-vis Xenophon or a Polish novel, but loses, so be it. It's changing the process and improving this entry that is my concern, not the individual names or books. Iago Dali 13:52, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

Just a thought, but have there ever been whole pages devoted to links to a subject? If people want to have endless linkage to novels then why not a whole Links page for novels, with a simple link on this page to that whole page? I'm not really for that, but then there can be links galore, while the novel page remains relatively concise. Iago Dali 14:05, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

I'm not going to try to take up all of this, but to take up a few points:
Yes, I think Wuthering Heights belongs on such a list, if only because of its implicit commentary on the "romantic" novels of the time. Heathcliffe is a bitter revision of a certain kind of romantic hero, a female fantasy of romantic virility deconstructed (my god, I never use that word, but this time I believe it is correct!) to bring the implicit brutality to the surface. It occupies a unique position (or at least a highly original position) between the romantic and the gothic.)
I don't know Polish literature well, so I hesitate to weigh in either way on those. I know Conrad because he wrote in English. I know Jan Potocki, and would certainly consider him great, but not exactly a novelist. Witold Gombrowicz certainly has a reputation equal to most on the list, but I've never read him.
As for Amy Tan, mentioned in passing above, I'd put her high on a list of overrated contemporaries, right next to Alice Walker and Bret Easton Ellis. If I were going to choose one contemporary Asian American woman writer, I'd pick the less prolific though far more trenchant Maxine Hong Kingston over Tan as readily as I'd favor Toni Morrison over Walker or William Vollmann over Ellis.
I think that it is perfectly appropriate it list older works that predate the modern concept of the novel, insofar as they are precursors. The novel did not emerge full-grown from the head of Zeus. Or Cervantes. -- Jmabel | Talk 04:26, September 4, 2005 (UTC)

You are making the very points I have outlined. And logolist has added 10 more titles- to 101. If Wuthering Heights, certainly Rebecca. Du Maurier is a far greater craftsman of words, and the book is rife with philosophic tidbits that the Brontes were incapable of, and both books lean heavily on melodrama. Also its use of the 'absent' titular character adds a psychological dimension not seen in the Brontes' rather straight-forward and all-too typical works. Novel pre-cursors, yes- but these Greek works are not such, and were originally in verse. I say add the Iliad, Oddysey and Arneid- they are far more structurally like novels, especially in the prose translations. I agree Tan is overrated, but so are Malory, More, Behn, Defoe, Austen, Pushkin- and Onegin was a novel-in-verse! Where is E.B. Browning's Aurora Leigh- it's far better written novel-in-verse than Onegin, and far more relevant today as a precursor to Feminist thought! I used Tan as an example, but I could make a fairly devastating case against Toni Morrison, and suggest Charles Johnson in her place. Oxherding tale will be read in a century. I doubt Morrision will be more than a PC footnote. Again, though- the Greek works listed were not stylistically, nor by genre precursors, any more than The Iliad was. Iago Dali 14:42, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

And Aphra Behn was far more well known as a playwright and poet than prose writer. Listing her as being influential on the novel is akin to listing Eugene O'Neill or Leonard Nimoy as poets, simply because they published doggerel due to fame in other fields. Iago Dali 14:46, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

  • Standard procedure at Wikipedia when a section gets too long is to spin it off into its own article. For example, the article Historical novel has it's own list: List of historical novels. I suggest we do the same. The list that remains on this article then could be cut down to a select listing. I'd also change the section head from Individual Novels Discussed to Examples of Individual Novels (since the section doesn't discuss the novels at all).--Alabamaboy 17:24, 4 September 2005 (UTC)
I would also suggest that, since there is a listing for Genre novels that more subcategroies be added- such as Gothic novels, Historical novels, and Literary novels, etc. and that the entry for novel, itself, be merely a discussion of the form- what differentiates a novel from an essay, poetry, or novella/short story, and the history. But, in farming these things out, part of the trimming should get rid of things that are simply not novels- such as many of the Greek poems, Malory- which by this entry's first sentence is not a narrative, Onegin- which is a distinct thing--a verse novel, and others; as well as dubious entries as described above--like Aphra Behn. If not, then any additions that are objected to by others--be it for a lack of literary quality; as claimed of Tan, or for not being somehow a novel in form, will have no weight since the lack of discretion and discrimination shown here makes any objections in the future open to charges of elitism and personal biases. In short, we can't be complaining of others' appearance when we're Jabba the Hut! Iago Dali 18:00, 4 September 2005 (UTC)


Great article. I have one question though, I find ten references to the word scandal and scandalous, relating to the literary production

The period 1700-1800 saw the rise of a "new romance" in reaction against the potentially scandalous production of novels.
The late 17th century saw the emergence of a European market for scandal, with French books appearing now mostly in the Netherlands (where censorship was liberal)
The novel flourished on this market as the best genre to purport scandalous news.
Read the review of the German Acta Eruditorum of Delarivier Manley's Atalantis - I gave the link.
authors claimed the stories they had to tell were true, told not for the sake of scandal but only for the moral lessons they gave
Read prefaces by Dearivier Manley or Christian Friedrich Hunold [Link to Hunold's Satyrischer Roman (1706), html-edition]
The early 18th century had—with the novel diving into private and public scandal—reached a state of affairs where a new reform seemed desirable. The
Crusoe's books were published as a dubious histories; they played the game of the scandalous early 18th century market, with the novel fully integrated into the realm of histories.
Read Charles Gildon's criticism of Robinson Crusoe published in 1719 - there exists a modern reprint...
Scandal as the DuNoyer or Delarivier Manley had published it vanished from the market of prose fiction—whether high or low.
It ultimately needed its own brand of scandalous journalism—the journalism which developed with the yellow press.
a trust which would have made them easy victims in the early 18th century world of fiction, libel, intrigue and scandal.
The novel had turned to scandal, then it had been reformed over the last decades of the 18th century.

Who thought these were scandalous, are there any critics known? Should we make a seperate entry for the scandalousness of the early novel?

--Jahsonic 13:04, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Well, yes, the novel was scandalous - though with exceptions. There were of course big volumnious works of erudition produced by men of reputation (such as Duke Anton Ulrich in Germany - though even he was interested in scandalous libel throughout his romances which were all situated in ancient Rome and its underground). Some romances were designed to instruct princes - they were exceptions. The produduction of about 20-50 titles per year (plus cheap romances and histories for the lower classes of readers) was a small segment of the whole book production. Novels and romances were designed to divert and entertain and to spread the latest fashions. The whole book market was, unlike ours, however, mostly religious and scientific. Religious controversies, practical divinity, politics, and scholarly publications made 80% to 90% of the early modern book production. Books designed to entertain could hence generally be criticised as a frivolous production (religious readers would take this position). Love was the central theme of romances, and this again could hardly be justified. The 17th century argument that you had to teach all the sinister traps of love so that virtous girls could learn to fear and to avoid them did not make things any better.
Satirical romances were not so much focussed on love - they created their own problems with the ridicule they offered.
Those who read novels and romances, the young generation, women and men of style could risk a liberal position and read the dubious production. And what did they eventually do with these books? They read them till they fell apart. Of print runs of 1,000 to 2,000 copies you are happy if a single copy of an edition survived. All that has to be said about the market till around 1740.
You ask for contemporary criticism - here you have to distiguish between scholarly, poetological and religious criticism. Overviews of the historia literaria - i.e. scientific bibliographies criticised romances as dubious histories and hardly mentioned them. Poetics hardly noted them - romances and novels were written in low language, prose. Clerics spoke against them: Gottfried Heidegger's Mytoscopia Romantica gives you a Swiss protestant view. Yet then again such criticism was relatively rare. These texts did not create the problems the opera created as a center of sacndalous urban life. Those who read novels would do that whether criticised or not - they loved their independence. There is another line of criticism within novels - reacting on the odd position.
18th century criticism brought a turn towards positive views of the novel - which have to be seen still to a good extent as criticism of the existing production. Speaking of better pieces they criticised the production as it actually existed - you see this if you take a look at the titles which are never mentioned but which dominated the market...

Should we make a seperate entry for the scandalousness of the early novel?

I do not know. The really interesting thing is the gradual improvement of the position. First romancers dared to answer the criticism levelled against the Amadis and then they began to defend their work against criticism of their morals - its a continuous process leading into the mid-18th-century novel which finally became accepted as literature, something a society should produce in order to improve its morals... --Olaf Simons 17:31, 15 November 2005 (UTC)


I just created an article for "term catalogues" as I realised my lines were beginning to form a mysterious category of histories. The category "History" comprised (up the the 19th century) all kinds of books reporting on events whether true or fictitious: ancient histories of Alexander the Great, novels and romances, Memoirs, travelogues, and latest books on political events, such as the ongoing wars. My article on term catalogues might need some more expertise and a look correcting my German. --Olaf Simons 10:56, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Novel vs history of the novel

Would it be good idea to save the novel page as history of the novel page in order to allow for simple definitions regarding the nature of the novel which would include:

NOVEL (from novellus, diminutive of Lat. novus, new; through the Italian novella), the name given in literature to a study of manners, founded on an observation of contemporary or recent life, in which the characters, the incidents and the intrigue are imaginary, and, therefore, new to the reader, but are founded on lines running parallel with those of actual history. --1911 version of EB via [Nov 2005]
That is the origin of the word, yet you will agree a novel is the very thing French, Germans and Dutch will call a "roman" - so why should there be more essence in the English etymology than in the French, German or Dutch? A study of manners? That is a 19th century interpretation. Imaginary characters? There are lots of novels about real characters - from Julius Ceasar to the coincidental author selling his own life as a novel.
A fictitious prose narrative or tale of considerable length (now usually one long enough to fill one or more volumes), in which characters and actions representative of the real life of past or present times are portrayed in a plot of more or less complexity. --OED via 1967 edition of EB
Which will not cover some of the more experimental genres.
The 1967 EB goes on to split into parts this definition:
Dualism: novel is a fictitious literary form, its subjects taken from everyday events yet its narrative methods attempt to create an air of literal truth. The reverse of the epic (nonfictional legendary status of its subject, narrative methods laying little emphasis on literal authenticity . Many early novels imitated the letter and the memoir, modes of writing used relate actual happenings.
the novel is the only major literary form which has not shaped under public and oral delivery. The novel's pretense at literal authenticity seems to demand prose. The novel is private reading, [a solitary pleasure].
Real life:
A steady attention to the surface of things - houses, goods, appearances, daily life, ordinary conversations - is typical of the novel's technique
No - I cannot see this - it is true for some novels but not for the majority nor for those typical titles
past and present times:
But more concerned with the contemporary.
causal relations
The novel more concerned with the contemporary? I thought it was more concerned with the past and (sometimes the future). The plot causal? I thought the author is free to construct things and I think we discuss novels strictly as deliberate, artificial (or unvoluntary, and then psychologically motivated) constructions...
In any case: You do not learn what a novel is by swallowing any of these definitions. You learn it through reading texts of the tradition of novels, and you learn to accept that this tradition allowed different things to be a novel. It is hence good practice to give an idea of the novel by giving its history as plot of changing perspectives on the thing. This is what I tried to do: give a history of changing definitions and thus teach what it is today: a piece of literature entering this tradition...
PS. As soon as yo try to give a definition of fiction you will run into all kinds of miseries. Fiction again is something of changing definitions, you rather teach it by leading into the tradition. --Olaf Simons 22:29, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

Size of article

Goodness - shouldn't this article be chopped into smaller bits? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 2 April 2006.


This page doesn't seem to mention the three-volume novel as a concept anywhere. Would it be worth trying to work it in? Shimgray | talk | 11:58, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

Novel Twists

Novel Twists

Interesting. Ehjort 15:29, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

So, what was interesting, given that as of 06:17, 4 June 2006 (UTC) this is a red link? - Jmabel | Talk 06:17, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
it has been deleted. It was not too interesting. Ehjort 08:29, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Can someone address "chapter book"

I had never heard of a "chapter book" until today. My 8-year-old neighbor was excited that he knew something that I, an adult, did not.

The Independent Online Booksellers Association describes them as:

CHAPTER BOOK: Fairly modern term referring to books for older children which are organized into chapters, as opposed to "picture books", which often are not.

How "modern" is that? ... I'm wondering how out-of-it I am as an "adult."

Still new to editing Wikipedia, though I read it all the time. Some of you who are more "literary" should consider contributing to these: Requested Articles on Literary Terms

WikiCrazy 05:05, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

Strikes me as a relatively non-notable neologism in the publishing/library field. Certainly doesn't merit mention here. Might at children's literature. - Jmabel | Talk 06:21, 16 September 2006 (UTC)


The article Proto-novel (used to be the article Early novels) is highly misleading and should be merged with this one (or expanded with a re-defined focus). It presently offers less information than the main article "novel".

"Proto-novels" are supposed to be novels before the modern novel - in other words: prose fiction written before Robinson Crusoe (1719).

Problem one: we have actual "novels" published before 1719 - in English beginning with William Painter's Palace of Pleasure well furnished with plesaunt Hitorires and excellent Nouvelles (1566). As they call themselves "novels" one can hardly call them "proto-novels". We could have an article on them - it would be an article on the whole realm of novella/ tale/ (little) history reaching back into antiquity and its tradition of exemplary short (hi-)stories.

Problem two: The list and the text the article Proto-novel offer, do actually reach back into the tradition of original romances. Don Quixote was clearly read as comical, satirical romance. If proto novels are supposed to be original romances (which we might call novels in hindsight) we have a conflict with the article Romance (genre)... --Olaf Simons 07:25, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

It was me who renamed Early novels into Proto-novel. I agree that the articles should be merged. --Ghirla -трёп- 07:34, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
I'd say it can be deleted without any loss. One might think of including the listed titles in our list here. --Olaf Simons 08:00, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
I concur. --Ghirla -трёп- 08:07, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Secondary sources

If one were to read all of the secondary sources on the list presented here, one would come away with the impression that the group of people who wrote this page were insane as nearly every book on that list (except for Doody's, I think) accepts the thesis that the novel is a modern, that is 17c/18c, invention. Either there needs to be some acknowledgement of that in the article or someone needs to find some scholarship that supports the claim (besides Doody, whom no one believes) that the novel existed before the 18c.Awadewit 09:55, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Thoroughly agree with this. There were no novels before Robinson Crusoe, because there was no understanding of narrative magic which alone makes the readers willingly suspend their disbelief. --Ghirla -трёп- 11:29, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

moon palace

Hey, we have a big problem. We really need to know what kind of novel the book "moon palace" by paul Auster is?!? Please help us. If we don't get to know we will get zero points.

In love

Important and "important" novels

I expect that articles about authors of important novels are not smaller then articles about novels from some other authors. Some of the authors from the sections of 19th and 20th centuries may be well known on the national/cultural level, but they are not widely known. And their novels may be the best in the world, but if they are not widely known, they may not be important to the whole humanity. --millosh (talk (meta:)) 13:52, 14 July 2007 (UTC)

What about a list of novels that have won whatever the most prestigious worldwide award there is (like the Academy Awards for movies) for each year of the 20th century? Or at least a link on this page to a page that lists those novels (as far back in years as the award was given). And in addition to that a list of the best-selling novels for each year or so, or based on the number of copies sold throughout time (like when a record "goes platinum")...these two lists would be helpful for those of us who are interested in both the "literary" greats as well as the "popular" greats, and who would like to read them. Thanks.

Assessment comment

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Novel/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

The article has been much developed - however there is a great need for copy-editing and also for enhancing the references. Particularly the in-line citations which for such a long article are "light". :: Kevinalewis : (Talk Page)/(Desk) 17:14, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
said it a second ago on Wikipedia:WikiProject_Novels/GeneralForum#Novel: give me hidden requests and I will reference the statements. I was and am not quite sure what to reference and what to leave to sub articles. Copy editing is extremely welcome, I'll have made some language mistakes... --Olaf Simons (talk) 13:50, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Last edited at 14:17, 7 February 2009 (UTC). Substituted at 21:49, 3 May 2016 (UTC)