Origins of ordinary things: Novels

The Merriam-Webster  Dictionary defines a novel as “an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events.” According to Pen and the Pad, a resource for writers “novel” originated from “novella”, an Italian word which was used to describe stories in the Middle Ages.

In the earlier centuries, anything that was published was believed to be true and because of this, books were sacred and authoritative. In the preliterate eras, storytellers would narrate tales in form of verse so that they would be easy to remember. This is according to Enotes, a knowledge-sharing platform.

According to Science Nordic, a resource for knowledge on northern Europe countries, the publication of fiction started in the 12th Century. Early novel writers stayed true to reality as much as possible and wrote of events that were plausible. Their stories reflected society as it was at the time. For instance, you would be hard-pressed to find a novel that mentioned a hand-held telecommunications device.

The use of the word “novel” became popular in the late 18th Century when the growing European middle class developed interest in reading. French scholar Pierre Daniel Huet is credited with laying the foundation for fiction with his publication “Traitté de l’origine des romans” which translates to “Traited from the origin of novels.”

At first, novels were highly expensive, costing higher than some laborers’ weekly wages. According to LinkedIn Slide Share, a knowledge resource, the prices came down with the introduction of libraries and printing technology.

Novels of the 21st Century are divergent. There are those that stay true to reality and there are those which are set in alternative universes in which the fictional characters are non-existent species with extraordinary features.

This genre of books is so influential that some of the writers have been immortalised as their work continues to be popular even after their deaths. The novels are studied and analysed in literature classes of schools around the world. Some of the books have been transformed into popular movies and theatre performances. Furthermore, people continue to seek the novels for personal reading.

Some of the most famous novelists include Jane Austen who wrote, among other works, “Pride and Prejudice”, Charles Dickens whose list of notable works include “Great Expectations” and “Oliver Twist”, George Orwell whose novel “Animal Farm” is highly popular, and Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian author who is internationally recognised for his novel “Things Fall Apart.”

Even as new forms of entertainment continue to come up, the popularity of novels remains stable. Studies have found that reading is considered a great way to improve intelligence and social skills. 

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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