The novel is an extended fictional narrative written in prose. Typically, the narrative depicts the development of a character and revolves around a plot and a theme, which act as its organizing principle. The novel as we think of it came into being after Daniel Defoe published Robinson Crusoe in 1719. During this time, the novel was viewed primarily as a form of entertainment.
In the mid-18th century, a few steps forward in the development of plot and characterization took place in the novels Pamela (1740) and Clarissa (1747–1748) by Samuel Richardson and Tom Jones (1749) by Henry Fielding. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1760–1767), a highly original work by Laurence Sterne, focused on characters’ conversations and remembrances instead of on action. These writers inspired other writers to take the novel form in new directions. The Novel Comes of Age The Victorian period (1832–1901) is often called the age of the novel.
The Victorian era ushered in the focus on realistic depictions of life that continues to this day. Victorian novels are known for their realism—the detailed presentation of everyday life. Through the novel, Victorian writers wanted to document the lives and the values of the English, including the lower classes. As the Victorian era continued, social concerns began playing a greater role in the general society, and the novel became a tool for exposing society’s ills. No other writer used this tool as effectively as did Charles Dickens. His novels Oliver Twist (1837–1839), A Christmas Carol (1843), David Copperfield (1849–1850), and Bleak House (1852–1853), described in riveting detail the troubling state of England’s lower classes.
subgenres of novel are:
After 1880, realism spawned several other schools of literary writing, including psychological realism and naturalism. In France, naturalism promoted a grimmer, more “scientific” approach to fiction. Naturalistic writing was an attempt to depict the human condition as objectively as scientific writings depicted the processes of nature. An example is Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), in which Thomas Hardy portrayed a hostile world where only the “fittest” prospered.