development of british novel (in general) as aliterary form
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Trace the development of novel (in general) as a literary form in England.
English Novel over the centuries-
English novel came into existence in the beginning of 18th century with the emergence of new middle class. During this time, public interest in human characters grew and this led to the popularity of autobiographies, biographies, journals, diaries and memoirs. Novelists showed interest in the newly emerged complex middle-class characters who were struggling with their morality and social issues. Tom Jones, a foundling was written by Henry Fielding during this time and focused on the social structure that prevailed in England during that time.
The first half of the 19th century was influenced by romanticism and the focus was on nature and imagination. Gothic (horror) and romantic novels were written during this time. Jane Austen wrote highly polished novels about the life of the landed gentry and social issues like marriage and property from women’s perspective.
In the period between 1837 to 1901, the Victorian novelists became popular. They portrayed middle-class, virtuous heroes responding to harsh society. Stories of working class poor people were directed to incite sympathy. The development of the middle-class and the manners and expectations of this class, as opposed to the aristocrat forms were the focus of the novelists of this period. Charles Dickens emerged as a literary figure and wrote about London life and struggles of the poor in Oliver Twist.
In the early twentieth century, Rudyard Kipling wrote highly versatile novels, short stories and poems, often based on his experience in British India. E.M.Forster also wrote A Passage to India which reflected challenges to imperialism. Novels from this era reflected great world events such as The Great Depression, World War II, Hiroshima, The Cold War and Communism. Crime, political and military confrontations were the areas of novelists and readers interest.
By looking at the history or genesis of novel in England above, we realise that author’s of different eras have provided the readers with a glimpse, if not a complete picture of a society, economic trends, cultural and religious beliefs of the time they wrote in. With change in time and situation of the world, the focus area of the novelist kept on moving. They covered varied subjects in their work starting from romances to naturalism, marriage and property, middle-class and landed gentry and so on.
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