Monday, 14 October 2013


The Novel and other Forms
The germ of the novel lay in the mediaeval romance, a fantastic tale of love and adventure, itself derived from the ballads and fragments of epic poems sung by the wandering minstrel. In 1350 Baccaccio wrote a world-famous collection of love stories in prose, entitled the Decameron. Such short stories are called in Italian ‘novelle’. The term originally meant a ‘fresh story’ but gradually came to signify a story in prose as distinguished from a story in verse, which continued to be called a romance. When prose became almost the Universal medium, the term ‘romance’ implied a story or series of stories of the legendary past, of which Malory’s Morte d’Arthur  is a famous example. It is often used to-day to describe a historical novel which is intentionally picturesque and exciting rather than scholarly, and still more frequently for a piece of light fiction of an emtional type, somewhat remote from the facts and probabilities of everyday life. F.Marion Crawford, a popular American novelist, once described the Novel as a ‘pocket theatre,’ containing as it does all the accessories of drama without requiring to be staged before an audience. It is more formally defined as “a long narrative in prose detailing the actions of fictitious people.” Meredith called it “a summary of actual life,” including both “the within and the without of us.” Fielding loosely characterised it as a comic epic in prose. It is the loosest form of the literary art, but its very freedom from all limitations allows it to give a fuller representation of real life and character than anything else can provide. Many hundreds of new novels appear every year, but their literary standard is not, as a rule, a high one, for , as W.H.Hudson remarks, “any one can write a novel who has pens, ink and paper at command, and a certain amount of leisure and patience.” It is none the less a very effective medium for the portrayal of human thought and action, “combining in itself the creations of poetry with the details of histroy and the generalised experience of philosophy, in a manner unattempted by any previous effort of human genius.”  

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