There’s a big difference between the italian word “novella” and the english word “novel". For the English people the word romance is for a particular style with heroes, battles, love stories, with a supernatural and medieval atmosphere. The novel, as the name suggests (it derives from the latin word “novus”), is made to talk about recent and original events, new events since his origins it’s deeply rooted in reality and in his problematic. In italian “narrativa” means a story with a narrator, but in English narrative means the very writing, the narration is called fiction, because it’s a realistic work, but it’s obvious that it’s also a fictional situation, it’s based on realism and try to imitate reality. If there wasn’t this imitation and was only reporting facts it would be an historical book, a chronicle or an autobiography. Fiction contains also other genres as short stories (in Italian called “novella”).
This genre is also ordinary, because members of the new classes want to read familiar things, something they can identify with, something that mirrors their experiences. A great example of the realism of the novel can be found in Robinson Crusoe: at the beginning of the novel Robinson remembers his past life, from the day he was born, he uses in his descriptions real places, dates, positions of the ships (also the use of first-person narrator is very important); there’s an abundance of realism (while Shakespeare didn’t worry about giving geographical and real elements, in fact in The Tempest he says the island is somewhere between Naples and Tunis, but concerning Defoe’s island for the lots of realistic elements, it was identified by critics). The realism is to make the story more feasible or it would be quite impossible that he could built everything and have a peaceful life from having nothing at the beginning.