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Introduction

A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, normally written in prose form, and which is typically published as a book. The present English 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". 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". However, many such romances, including the historical romances of Scott, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, 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." 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.

The novel constitutes "a continuous and comprehensive history of about two thousand years", 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.)

Selected article

The cover of the first edition of The Red Badge of Courage
The Red Badge of Courage is a war novel by American author Stephen Crane. Taking place during the American Civil War, the story is about a young private of the Union Army, Henry Fleming, who flees from the field of battle. Overcome with shame, he longs for a wound—a "red badge of courage"—to counteract his cowardice. When his regiment once again faces the enemy, Henry acts as standard-bearer. Although Crane was born after the war, and had not at the time experienced battle firsthand, the novel is known for its realism. He began writing what would become his second novel in 1893, using various contemporary and written accounts (such as those published previously by Century Magazine) as inspiration. It is believed that he based the fictional battle on that of Chancellorsville; he may also have interviewed veterans of the 124th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commonly known as the Orange Blossoms. Initially shortened and serialized in newspapers in December 1894, the novel was published in full in October 1895. Several of the themes that the story explores are maturation, heroism, cowardice, and the indifference of nature. Adapted several times for the screen, the novel became a bestseller. It has never been out of print, and is now thought to be Crane's most important work and a major American text.

Selected novel quote

  • 'You should learn not to make personal remarks,' Alice said with some severity; 'it's very rude.'
    The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, 'Why is a raven like a writing-desk?'
    'Come, we shall have some fun now!' thought Alice. 'I'm glad they've begun asking riddles. — I believe I can guess that,' she added aloud.
    'Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?' said the March Hare.
    'Exactly so,' said Alice.
    'Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on.
    'I do,' Alice hastily replied; 'at least — at least I mean what I say — that's the same thing, you know.'
    'Not the same thing a bit!' said the Hatter. 'You might just as well say that "I see what I eat" is the same thing as "I eat what I see"!'
    'You might just as well say,' added the March Hare, 'that "I like what I get" is the same thing as "I get what I like"!'
    'You might just as well say,' added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, 'that "I breathe when I sleep" is the same thing as "I sleep when I breathe"!'
    'It is the same thing with you,' said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could remember about ravens and writing-desks, which wasn't much.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

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