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Rise of the Novel

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Rise of the Novel - Lesson Summary

Novel is a narrative form, which captivates readers and carries them into an imaginary world of fictitious characters. The wide circulation of printed copies made the novel a popular genre with people across different strata of society. Novels allowed the reader a private reading experience as well as the joy of public reading.

The first novels were written in the 17 th century, but they blossomed in the 18 th century. The aristocrats, gentlemanly class and the upcoming lower middle class became the first readers of novels in England and France.

Novel writers experimented with different writing styles like the epistolary novel, written in the form of a series of letters to tell the story. In 1836 serialised novel writing came up in a magazine where suspense was built up as the story unfolded slowly.

Novels were about everyday lives of ordinary people. 19 th century England was grappling with the consequences of industrialization and Charles Dickens’ talked about the same in his novels. Crowded cities, underpaid workers, homeless children and industrial capitalism became common themes in his novels.

Novels also talked about the fast vanishing rural world like in the novel by Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge. The novel blended the spoken language and the classical language, and brought different people on a common platform.

The rise of novels witnessed the active involvement of women as writers and readers. Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte famous for Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre depicted the world of women and dealt with the themes of courtship, marriage and money.

Writing was not considered an ideal profession for women so many women writers used false names or pseudonyms. Novels for young boys aroused the adventure of visiting and conquering new lands like R. L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. 

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